George E. Johnson, 80, of Davenport, passed away Saturday, October 12, 2013, at Bettendorf Healthcare Center, Bettendorf, IA. Funeral services will be at 10:00 AM Friday, October 18, 2013 in the Runge Mortuary Chapel. Visitation will be from 3:00 – 7:00 PM Thursday, October 17, 2013 at the mortuary. Burial will be in the All Veterans Section of Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery. Online condolences may be expressed at www.rungemortuary.com.
George was born February 28, 1933, in Sturgeon Bay, WI, the son of G. Edwin and Leona Johnson. He married Thelma Odegaard and they had three children. They divorced and George married Karen A. Johnson in 1977 and they have been married for 36 years.
George graduated from Sturgeon Bay High School in 1951 and entered into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1952. He received an honorable discharge in 1955. He returned to Wisconsin and received his training as a civil engineer at the University of Wisconsin and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1960. At that time he began his career with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island as a Civil Engineer Trainee. Following several promotions, he became Chief of the Water Control Section in 1969. In 1970 he earned a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
In 1976, Mr. Johnson became Chief of the Hydraulics Branch as a Supervisory Hydraulic Engineer. In 1992, several branches consolidated, and he became the Chief of the Hydrologic and Hydraulics Branch directing the water control operations at the Corps flood control reservoirs in Iowa and at the navigable dams on the Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway. He worked on the design of Red Rock and Saylorville dams in Iowa, and numerous flood control projects and levees throughout the Rock Island District. He received an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service as Chief of H&H Branch during the Great Flood of 1993.
In 1981 George was named "Engineer of the Year" by the Quad Cities Engineering and Science Council (QCESC). He was elected to the Iowa State Chapter of Sigma Xi, and was elected a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He later became involved with and served as President of that council. His other memberships include Society of Military Engineers (SAME). He was a registered professional engineer in the states of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin and in addition was a professional hydrologist with the American Institute of Hydrology.
Throughout his life, George exhibited a strong commitment to the community. He has served on the Board of Supervisors for Milan, IL and the Rock Island Public School Board, including a term as President of the School Board. He has been very active in Rotary International, is a Paul Harris Fellow and served as Rock Island Rotary Club President from 1990-1991. He was honored with the A.T.Peara-Service above Self Award in 2007 and last year was designated as an Honorary Member with over 30 years of perfect attendance.
In 1965 George served as Chairman of the Building Committee and led the process to build the Milan Presbyterian Church. He was also a member of the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa and was a member and served as Chairman of the Youth Service Bureau. George was a member of the American Legion and the International Association of Turtles.
His greatest claim to fame was when he served as an expert witness in the two James Klindt murder trials. His name appears in the book, "DEAD WATER, The Klindt Affair" giving his opinion of the river currents, distance and time involved relating to the case. Another famous moment was his hole-in-one which he played at Duck Creek in 1985. He would also talk of meeting Coach Hayden Fry while both were in the Marine Corps. He participated in many lawsuits as "expert witness" for navigation accidents, the Saylorville lawsuit, and the Coralville lawsuit. He served as Chairman of a Federal Court Arbitration Panel regarding a dispute between North Dakota and Minnesota and chaired the public meeting in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1985 which was widely publicized.
Those left to honor his memory are his wife, Karen (Hartz), Davenport; a sister, Karen (Glenn) Reichard, Sturgeon Bay, WI; daughter, Kathryn (Paul) Bernard, Seminole, FL; sons, Marc (Linda) Johnson, Little Rock, AR and Eric, Tampa, FL; two stepsons, Harry Graham, Davenport and Quinton Graham, Bettendorf; grandchildren, Erin and Christopher Johnson, Erica Lucas, Paul J. Bernard, Sarah Johnson and Jacqueline Graham; great grandchildren, Scarlett Lucas and Danity Graham; two special cousins, Judy Endle and Reta Schmidt; nieces and nephews and many other loving family members who he just saw while on a trip to Sturgeon Bay, WI.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
The family would like to acknowledge their appreciation for the excellent care provided by Home Bound Health Care of Moline, Bettendorf Healthcare Center and a special thank you to Hospice Compassus for their assistance and comfort during our time of grief.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in George's memory to the Rotary Club of Rock Island, Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa, or Hospice Compassus.