by Eileen De Guire
Former ACerS president and Distinguished Life Member, James Johnson, died Oct. 18, 2019 at the age of 96. Johnson earned his Ph.D. in ceramic engineering from The Ohio State University and worked for 3M Company for 23 years, completing his career with 3M as director of physical sciences and executive scientist. He joined the Society in 1947 and was a member of ACerS Basic Science Division, serving as chair 1955–1956. In 1961 Johnson was elevated to Fellow, and he served as president of the Society 1973–1974. In 1981 he the Society awarded him Distinguished Life Membership, its highest honor.
A keen researcher, he held 54 patents. John (Jack) Wachtman (also an ACerS Fellow and Distinguished Life Member), recalls meeting Johnson at conferences and discussing future directions for ceramic research and the role of ceramics in technology. “Jim was a strong believer in initiative and creativity and self-reliance,” Wachtman recalls. Although the proprietary nature of Johnson’s research prevented him from sharing details, he nonetheless “seemed to me to have a broad dedication to the field of ceramic research and a strong sense of dedication to the U.S.A. He was public spirited,” says Wachtman.
After retirement, Johnson went on to teach as an adjunct professor at two universities, including the University of Wisconsin–Stout, which awarded him an honorary Ph.D. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, belonged to the 3M Carlton Society, and contributed as a board or committee member for numerous nationwide technology organizations.
Johnson’s wife of 75 years, Virginia, survives him, along with five children, 13 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.