SOUTH FREEPORT — Robert Otis “Bob” Johnson, 80, of Pound of Tea Island, South Freeport, died at the Hyder Family Hospice Home in Dover, New Hampshire, on Dec. 17, after a two-year battle with cancer.
Born in Lewiston in August 1935 to Edith Erickson Johnson and Otis Johnson, he was the youngest of three children. He and his two older sisters, Barbara Johnson Boviard and Eleanor Johnson Weiss grew up in Hallowell, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Woburn, Massachusetts. Johnson was 100 percent Swedish and was “one tough Viking,” as his family liked to joke. He spent summers boating in Casco Bay at the family summer home on Bustin’s Island.
Johnson attended Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard University in 1957. While he was at Harvard, he met Judie Higgins, who was attending Lesley College. The couple married in 1958.
In 1957 Johnson joined the Army. He served in military intelligence and as a paratrooper while stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After the military, he attended Harvard Business school and graduated in 1962 with an MBA.
Johnson worked for several high tech companies in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, area before starting his own business. He co-owned the H.F. Staples Company in Merrimack, New Hampshire, and was both executive vice president and president during the 28 years he was there.
In the late 1990s, Johnson met Kathy Noah, with whom he had a fun-loving relationship for many years.
Johnson retired from H.F. Staples in 2000 and moved to Pound of Tea Island, where he lived his dream on Casco Bay. A lifelong sailor and boater, he became a “steward” of his island at the mouth of the Harraseeket River. He volunteered many hours at the Eagle Island State Park and was a member of the Friends of Peary’s Eagle Island. He could often be found helping out friends, or entertaining guests with coffee or crab picking. He joked with people about achieving their PhD, or “picker’s highest degree” if they could learn how to master crab picking.
Johnson had many interests, including reading, astronomy, geology, skiing, traveling, gardening, snorkeling, water skiing, horseback riding. He ran 17 marathons, more than 400 road races and 16 Mount Washington road races. He was a member of the White Mt. Milers and a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, now based in Tamworth, New Hampshire.
Johnson is survived by two daughters, Heather Johnson, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Holly Johnson, of Peterborough, New Hampshire; his girlfriend, Kathy Noah, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; a sister, Barbara Boviard, of Reading, Massachusetts; and several nieces and nephews.
His family wishes to thank the staff at the Hyder Family Hospice Home at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Jan. 23 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, 30 Tamworth Road, Tamworth, New Hampshire.