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Donald F. Johnson, school custodian, 59


Donald F. Johnson, a longtime school building supervisor and custodian who was active in Boy Scouts, his union and other community activities, died Friday at Carroll County General Hospital after a complication from arthritis led to a blood infection. He was 59.

Mr. Johnson had retired from the school system in October 1991.

Despite increasing difficulty with arthritis, Mr. Johnson, who lived in Westminster, had continued to be active in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts as he had been for 25 years. Many Scouts went with their parents to call on the family at the funeral home this week.

Mr. Johnson remained active as a volunteer with his local union, a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. A past president, he was on the negotiating team this year as an adviser, and he had attended a session as recently as March 16, said Thomas V. Kelleher, staff representative for the union.

On March 1, he was testifying in Annapolis on behalf of his local on a bill that affects firings of classified school workers, Mr. Kelleher said. Mr. Johnson and local union presidents had to walk between the car and state buildings, which was difficult for Mr. Johnson because of the arthritis.

"Even though he had to stop on Main Street on his way back and rest for a few minutes, he kept on going," Mr. Kelleher said. "He did his job, took his time, and kept going. That was Don."

Mr. Johnson was highly respected among union members and had become a good friend, Mr. Kelleher said.

"It's really tough to make friends in this business, because you're always dealing with tension and problems," Mr. Kelleher said. "There are some good things, and one of them was Don. He was a team player. He was the heart of things. The good heart of things."

During 19 years with the Board of Education, Mr. Johnson worked at Westminster Elementary and Eldersburg Elementary, and had retired from Robert Moton Elementary School.

Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Thelma Parker Johnson, a custodian at Robert Moton Elementary; three daughters, Brenda Lea Johnson, Cynthia Jane Kontz and Donna Elseroad, all of Westminster; a son, John Edward Johnson of Westminster; a brother, Edward T. Johnson of Milwaukee, Wis.; and a sister, Virginia Gorsuch of Westminster.

Services were held Monday.

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