Donald R. Johnson was born on April 27, 1917, in Portland, Oregon. He studied fisheries at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, from which he obtained his B.S. degree in 1939. He began work as a biologist for the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission in 1939, but in 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War II, he joined the U.S. Army and was sent back to Corvallis for engineer training. While there, he met Kathleen Moore, and on January 2, 1944, they were married.
After the war, during which Don served as a sergeant in the Army Signal Corps in New Guinea and the Philippines, he joined the staff of the Oregon Fish Commission, where he focused on salmon management. In 1949 he was promoted to Assistant Director of Research. In 1951, he accepted the position of Chief Supervisor of Research for the Washington Department of Fisheries (WDF). (He was almost certainly recruited for that position to restore the effectiveness of the WDF after the events described in the biography of William A. Smoker.) In 1958, he left the WDF to become Regional Director of the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, where he remained until 1966. He then returned to the Pacific Northwest, serving as Regional Director of the Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service until his retirement in 1980.
He served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington during 1951-1958 and 1966- 1970 and as an affiliate professor there from 1970 to 1980. Also, he served as a commissioner for the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission and the Northwest River Basins Commission. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Founding Fellow of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists.
Don was a completely straightforward and honest person, who fully supported the people who worked under his supervision. Everyone in the fisheries profession had great respect for him.
He was active in the United Methodist Church in Bellevue and Belfair, Washington. Don died in Bellevue on March 28, 2000, at the age of 82.
Anonymous. 2009. Herbert W. Graham [obituary]. AIFRB Briefs, 38 (1): 5-6.
Skud, Bernard. 2007. Herbert W. Graham: happy 102nd birthday!! AIFRB Briefs, 36 (5): 6-7.
Personal communications: Teri Frade, Karen Heise-Gentile, Suzan Oliver, Bernard E. Skud.