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David Richard Johnson, age 73 of Buffalo, MN, passed away on July 4, 2024. Born on February 26, 1951, in Minneapolis, MN, David was the son of Evert and Evelyn (Berglund) Johnson.

He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1969 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Minnesota in 1973. His passion for helping others led him to pursue a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Mankato State University, which he completed in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1987.

In 1980, he married Sharon Hill, in Crystal, MN. They eventually settled in Buffalo, MN, where they have resided for the past 24 years. Together, they cultivated a warm and loving home on their hobby farm, where David found joy in helping raise horses and dogs with Sharon and spending time outdoors.

David was a dedicated and highly respected professor at the University of Minnesota, where his commitment to teaching and mentoring students was unparalleled. He served as director of the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) for over 20 years — becoming a national authority in the field of disability services. Over his career David published more than 100 book chapters and journal articles on topics concerning secondary education and special education. His research has been used by U.S. Congressional committees, state legislatures, state education agencies, and other organizations.

Above all else, it was David’s dedication to his family and tireless commitment to his career that left an indelible mark on all who knew him. Even as he faced illness, David continued to teach and mentor, exemplifying his passion for education and support for his students.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Evert and Evelyn; and brother, Vance Johnson.

Survived by his wife of 44 years, Sharon; children, Andrew (Andrea Armagost) Johnson and Travis Johnson (Theresa Dunnavant); granddaughters, Evelina and Louise “Lulu” Johnson; brother, Richard Johnson of Seattle, WA; and many other relatives and friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

2 Guestbook Entries

  1. Xueqin (Shirley) Qian

    David is a mentor to me. I recall in many meetings, if David is there, there will be a solution and a clear direction. David is not only just passionate and knowledgeable about what he is doing, he also cares about mentoring young people. He offers feedback but is always in a caring way. He will be greatly missed!

  2. Connie Burkhart

    Sharon, Andrew, and Travis, I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad talked about you often, especially his grandchildren. We shared a love of dogs and our appreciation of our breeds. I’m stuck in love with Australian Shepherds. David and Sharon fell for the French Berger Picard. I always enjoyed connecting over dog stories and horse stories. We have to talk about something other than work, right?

    I was devastated to learn of his death when I came to work on Monday. I know we will carry on his legacy at the Institute on Community Integration. He and Charlie Lakin left us a strong foundation that will guide us into the future.

    My deepest condolences to you all.


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