He was born on Aug. 28, 1923, in Mullenville, Kansas, where his father was a United Brethren minister. As a boy, he often sang in his father's church and carried newspapers to earn his first bicycle. He graduated from high school in Iola, Kansas.
He attended the University of Kansas and later studied at Kansas University Medical Center (KUMC), where he met his future wife Sally. They married in 1947, the same year he graduated. He also completed a three-year pediatric residency at KUMC.
From there, he was called to Navy duty and served at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. After meeting some other doctors from the San Francisco Peninsula, he and Sally decided to move to Palo Alto, where he joined the pediatric group practice at the then Palo Alto Clinic. He also worked as a Palo Alto school physician for many years, supervising school nurses.
In 1963, he became medical and executive director of the Stanford Convalescent Home for Children (known as the "Con Home"), which later became the Children's Hospital at Stanford. He assisted in its transition into the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and officially part of the Stanford Medical Center. Then, from 1979 to 1986, he served as executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Illinois.
In his retirement back in California, he volunteered at Filoli in Woodside. He also sang for years with the Aurora Singers, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit chorus. Over the years, he and Sally lived in Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills — most recently at Channing House.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Sara "Sally" Jennison of Palo Alto; daughters, Rebecca Jennison (Nari) of Japan, Kathleen Goonan (Tom) of Maryland, Sara Nebeling (Marcus) of Half Moon Bay, and Jody Young (Chris) of Davenport, Iowa; and eight grandchildren.
A private memorial service will be held in May. Memorial donations may be made to a favorite charity.
Kenneth Wolcott Johnson, a lifelong resident of Palo Alto, died on April 13 in his home.
He was born on Nov. 6, 1921 to Betty and Wolcott Johnson. In his youth, he participated in youth groups at the Palo Alto First Congregational Church and become acquainted with fellow Paly student, Evelyn, his future wife.
He studied as an undergraduate at Caltech, and later transferred to active duty in the Navy. Before heading off with a ship to Europe during WWII in 1945, he and Evelyn married in January of that year.
After the war, he rejoined her in Palo Alto and completed a master's degree in electrical engineering at Stanford. Then in 1947, he worked as an engineer at his father's company in Palo Alto called Johnson-Williams. In 1971, he left to start his own company, GasTech, leading it until 1992. He then began a new company, KWJ Enginnering, where he worked until January 2014.
He enjoyed hiking, swimming and fishing and often spent time with his family at Lake Tahoe.
He was pre-deceased by his wife Evelyn Johnson in 2012. He is survived by his younger sister Dianne; his children, Carol, Margie, Larry and Doug; 11 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on May 9 at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto: 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto. Memorial donations may be made to CARE or Doctors Without Borders.
This story contains 567 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.