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OBITUARY: William Johnson

February 3, 2022
By Boca Beacon

William “Bill” Johnson, 82, died peacefully and surrounded by family in his home on January 28, 2022. William Vincent Johnson was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on January 7, 1940, the fifth son of James and Eleanor nee Kerrick Johnson. Eleanor passed away when “Billy” was four, after giving birth to her sixth child, a girl. After his mother’s death, and with his father working full-time, local nuns allowed him to attend one of the local parochial schools with a book in hand and following along the older students. Throughout his life, Bill remained a devoted Catholic man, no doubt influenced by the faith and kindness of these nuns who helped take care of him after his mother’s death. Bill played quarterback for Owensboro Catholic High School. Upon his graduation in 1958, he was offered a full scholarship to play at Milwaukee’s Marquette University and its then-Division I football team. It was during his freshman year at Marquette that he met fellow freshman, Diane Donovan of Glenview, IL, and began their 6-decade adventure together. Marquette discontinued football after his junior year, but Bill remained close to his Marquette friends and teammates for decades. Bill and Diane were married on January 26, 1963, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Glenview. Bill attended law school, first at the University of Kentucky, then in the night school program at Chicago-Kent School of Law while they couple started their family. Bill graduated from law school in 1966. He worked for small law firms and insurance companies and began his career as a courtroom attorney trying lawsuits. He eventually tried hundreds of cases to verdict in courtrooms across the country. In 1975, Bill was hired to join a new law firm which eventually became Johnson & Bell. Bill continued trying cases, defending physicians, small and large businesses, from all manner of lawsuits. He garnered respect of his clients, his peers, and the judiciary. Bill was president of the law firm for over 40 years, and he took delight in the firm, its accomplishments and, in particular, training and playing a role in the professional development of hundreds of attorneys over the years. Bill and Diane raised their family in Northbrook and enjoyed decades-long friendships there. Despite his demanding career, Bill was usually home by 6 p.m., and he took the time to coach hockey, teach religious education, and actively cheer in his four kids in their swimming meets, tennis matches, and hockey and football games. Despite the busy life, he also took time for, and developed a love for golf and boating. Bill was also fortunate to travel, with Diane alone or with family and friends, to faraway places such as India, China, Europe, Russia, and Australia. One particular highlight was a 50th anniversary family land-and-sea tour of Alaska in 2011.Bill welcomed his first of what would be 10 grandchildren in 1994. That same year, Bill and Diane purchased a winter home in Boca Grande, FL, which remained a special family place for the remaining decades of Bill’s life, and which enabled him special time spent with his wife, kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, and many friends from all over the country he met there. In addition to his wife Diane, Bill is survived by his children: Laura (Kurt Koeplin) Johnson, Mark, Kristen, Matt (Andrea) Johnson; his grandchildren Allie, Maddie, Ryan, Sydney, Will, Ashley, Nick, Quentin, Paige, and Reagan. He is also survived by one brother, Donald Johnson, , three sisters-in-law, Suzanne Johnson, and Joan Johnson, and Patricia Swed, as well as many nieces and nephews throughout the country. He loved them all. Visitation, Friday, February 4, 2022, 3:00 p.m.- 7:00 Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Boulevard at Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL 60077. Funeral Mass, Saturday, February 5, 2022, 10:00 a.m. at Saint Norbert Church, 1809 Walters Avenue, Northbrook, IL 60062. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bill’s name may be made to Misericordia, 6300 North Ridge Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660 or National Sports Center for the Disabled (Please specify: Competitive Alpine Ski Team), 1801 Mile High Stadium Circle, Suite 1500, Denver, CO 80204. Info: or (847) 675-1990