Maurice Johnson

Obituary of Maurice Johnson

Long-time New Canaan and Darien resident M. Carl Johnson, Jr., who lived in recent years at the New Canaan Inn, passed away on December 19 at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan. The former advertising and manufacturing executive, who first moved to the Fairfield County area in 1957 with his wife, the late Lenore Russell Johnson, was 88. Born Maurice Carl Johnson, Jr. in 1920 in Chicago, he was the eldest son of the late Maurice Carl and Jeanne Norr Johnson. As a youth he lived in Columbus, OH, Hudson, NY, Baltimore, MD, and Westfield, NJ, in addition to Chicago, as his family relocated to cities where his father, a civil engineer, designed municipal waterworks projects. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, leaving in his junior year to enter Army Officer Candidate School, at the outbreak of World War II. After receiving his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery, and subsequent training in Panama, he landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy four weeks after D-Day. He was a forward artillery spotter with the Second Field Artillery, with service both on the ground and airborne in Piper Cubs above German lines during the Battle of the Bulge, until he was wounded in February 1945 by a shell fragment. After recovering from his war wounds, Johnson entered retailing in Chicago, with Montgomery Ward, subsequently becoming the small appliance buyer for the then renowned retailer. While in Chicago, he met his future wife, known as Norie, thanks to his mother Jeanne, later also a New Canaan resident until her passing in 1992, who was one of her customers at Best & Co., and who played matchmaker between the young couple. Johnson conveniently ducked his mother’s attempted assignation for some weeks, but finally relented and the three rendezvoused at the old Blackstone Hotel for drinks. After a round or two of cocktails, they sent the senior Mrs. Johnson home in a taxi for the evening, and the rest is history. The couple were married in Evanston, IL in 1947, and lived in Evanston until relocating to the New York area in 1950, living briefly in Glen Cove, Long Island and later Short Hills, NJ, before settling in Darien in 1957. After spending his early career in retailing, at Ward’s, Macy’s and later as Vice President of Affiliated Retailers, Johnson entered the fast-growing advertising agency field, first with Young & Rubicam, and then with McCann-Erickson, in New York. After heading up the Westinghouse account for McCann, legendary McCann Chairman Marion Harper sent Johnson to Tokyo in 1961, where he was founding President of McCann-Erickson/Hakuhodo, the first US agency in Japan, relocating with Norie and their three sons to Yokohama. In 1964, he was transferred back to Chicago, where as Executive Vice President he headed McCann’s business in the Midwest and Canada, with the family moving to Winnetka, IL. In 1969 Johnson was named Chairman of Tinker Pritchard Woods in New York, a sister agency to McCann under the Interpublic Group holding company, later chairing Tinker Dodge & Delano. The family returned to Connecticut, this time to New Canaan, but Johnson kept up his Darien ties—and like Norie an avid golfer--through maintaining his membership at Wee Burn Country Club. In 1975, Johnson left the agency business to enter the manufacturing field, first as President of Barton Brands Ltd, the distilled spirits company, in Chicago. He later became President of Sensation Corporation, a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, based in Sheboygan, WI. Over the subsequent three decades the couple lived either in Chicago’s North Shore area, Omaha, New Canaan, or Northern Virginia, before returning again to New Canaan in late 2001. Johnson moved to a condominium on South Avenue, while Mrs. Johnson, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the mid-1990’s, entered Waveny’s Village shortly after it opened. In the subsequent years, Johnson would visit his wife Norie almost daily at Waveny Village, while maintaining his five times a week participation in Senior Swimming at the New Canaan YMCA. In doing so, he became one of the most frequent customers of the Getabout, New Canaan’s transportation service for seniors and those with special needs. He was predeceased by Norie, his wife of 58 years, also a past resident of Waveny Care Center, in 2005. He is survived by his three sons, M. Carl Johnson III and his wife Susan, of Princeton, NJ; Craig Johnson and his wife Parke, of New Canaan; and Larry Johnson, of Lexington, MA. He is also survived by four grandchildren, including Haleigh and Peter Johnson of Princeton; and Caitlin and Chase Johnson of New Canaan. Johnson is also survived by his brothers Joseph Johnson of Orlando, FL, Thomas Johnson of Champaign, IL, and his sister Anne Miller of Charlottesville, VA, Arrangements are being made for a family memorial ceremony at the family’s longtime plot at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, IL. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers are suggested to either Getabout Inc., P.O. Box 224 in New Canaan, or to Waveny Care Network, 3 Farm Road, New Canaan.
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