The Passing of Professor Emeritus Lawrence Johnson

Sadly, Dr. Lawrence Johnson, a dedicated chemistry professor at York for more than four decades, has died. His family has given us permission to share his obituary:

"Lawrence William Johnson passed away on January 30, 2023 at his home. He was born on January 23, 1942 in Houston, Texas to Olive and Chester Johnson. He spent the majority of his childhood living on the campuses of the boarding schools where his mother worked in both Pennsylvania and New York, and loved to tell his stories about riding horses bareback, shooting arrows, and exploring the outdoors. It was in his elementary school days at the Manumet School where he showed an early proclivity towards Chemistry.

Larry graduated from the Buxton School, Bard College, and LSU where he gained his PhD in physical chemistry. It was during his post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania where he met his wife Maryan. In 1974, he became a Chemistry professor at York College, part of the City University of New York, where he spent his 46-year career. He was an accomplished research academic with numerous publications, a patent, and several fellowships to his name, but he was also a devoted teacher, who pushed his students hard but loved seeing them succeed.

Outside of his professional life, Larry was a curious person. He loved the ocean, sailing and swimming, reading, the arts, especially theater and dance, and especially his dogs. He had deep ties to Bard College, Philadelphia, Cape Cod, and of course, New York City. He took delight in his grandchildren, in exploring the world through work sabbaticals in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and always asking people about themselves. Most of all, Larry was an optimistic, happy person who loved his family, his work and his dogs.

Larry is survived by his wife Maryan, his brother Arthur, his children Christina (Kim) and Nicholas (Shelley), his grandchildren Theodore, Amelia and Nathaniel and his beloved dog Ellie. He was pre-deceased by his parents Olive and Chester, and his grandson Henry."

Dr. Emmanuel Chang, who has also served as chair of York's Chemistry department, remembers Dr. Johnson for this posting.

"Larry was the chair of the department when I was hired in 2006," said Dr. Chang. "He was a great mentor and excellent example as a teacher and researcher.  He always pushed for the highest standards for students and faculty at York, believing that York students deserved nothing but the best.  Even after he retired, he maintained his interest in the department, asking specifically about the progress of faculty and department initiatives." 

To learn about Dr. Johnson's scholarly work, see his CV on the York College website: Johnson, Lawrence — York College / CUNY