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Published: Saturday, 3/31/2012

Dr. Duane Johnson, 1925-2012: Toledo dentist was a WWII Army medic

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Dr. Duane Johnson, a South Toledo dentist for more than 40 years and a leader in professional and community groups, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 87 and had pneumonia.

Dr. Johnson -- known to family and friends as Dewey -- retired in 1995 from his family practice of dentistry. He had patients of all ages and, rather than adopting a specialty, remained a generalist.

"He was a complete everything," said Dr. Robert Forche, a retired dentist, who started his practice about four years after Dr. Johnson.

"I was younger and looked up to him, said Dr. Forche, whose son, Dr. John Forche, took over Dr. Johnson's practice.

To the younger Dr. Forche, Dr. Johnson was professional and respectful and hardworking, traits shared by many in his generation of World War II veterans.

"He was like a hero," the younger Dr. Forche said. To the elder Dr. Forche, "He was a fun-loving person, just a regular guy who got along with everyone."

Dr. Johnson was a former president of the Toledo Dental Society and of the Toledo Society of Dentistry for Children. He was a fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy, an international honor dental organization.

He was chosen by the Toledo JayCees as one of the 10 outstanding men of the year for 1957.

"He was dedicated and capable. I think those are the best two words," said Norm Heydinger, who with his wife, Dorothy, were patients. The couple founded the Laurel Hills Swim and Tennis Club. Around 1980, Dr. Johnson became an investor and member of the club's board of directors -- and a tennis player.

Dr. Johnson also was a former president of the South Toledo Kiwanis Club and was on the board of the former South Toledo YMCA. He was a Mason, Shriner, and Elk.

A 1943 graduate of Libbey High School, he later was dentist for its sports teams, served on the football banquet committee, and was inducted into its hall of fame.

"He was born and raised here and never wanted to leave except for vacation," his wife, Judi, said. "He loved his town and [did] anything he could do to be involved."

He was born Jan. 7, 1925, to Lillian and Charles Johnson. He wanted to be a physician and became a medic in the Army. He was trained at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was in France at the end of the war. His duty included caring for German prisoners of war, his wife said.

He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Toledo. A dentist he met persuaded him to change his course of study. He received his dental degree from Ohio State University. He was licensed to practice in 1953.

He played on the Libbey and UT baseball teams and as a young adult played on area softball teams.

In retirement, he volunteered at the Call for Action consumer help line at WTOL-TV, Channel 11. After a knee replacement, he became a volunteer in outpatient rehabilitation at what is now the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital.

He preferred conversation more meaningful than small talk and liked to travel. He and his wife went to Europe four times and had a time share in Cancun, Mexico. The couple had season tickets to Ohio State home football games, and he was a fan of the Detroit Tigers.

He was formerly married to Ann Westin.

Surviving are his wife, Judi, whom he married Dec. 1, 1978; sons, Kirk and Eric Johnson; daughter, Robin Kruse; stepdaughters, Dawn Corns and Debra Vance, and six grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in Epiphany Lutheran Church, where visitation will begin at noon.

The family suggests tributes to the Northwestern Ohio Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or the Toledo Area Humane Society.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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