Jay Russell Johnson, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and teacher, passed away Sunday April 9th, 2023 at the age of 75. He was born on June 13th, 1947 to loving parents Geraldine and Raymond Johnson, and grew up in Ogden, Utah.
He was a proud graduate of Ben Lomond High School in 1965. After high school, Russell went on to earn his degree from Brigham Young University. He was extremely proud of his school and could often be found cheering on BYU’s football and basketball teams.
After graduating from Brigham Young, Russell married Cheryl Jean Satterthwaite on June 18th, 1976, in the Ogden Temple, where they were sealed for time and all eternity. Together they had four children: Sarah (Jake) Schaugaard, Blake (Jeri) Johnson, Todd (Cara) Johnson, and Ashlee (Chase) Dimond. He adored his family and cherished the time he spent with his grandchildren: Madison (Aaron) Rasmussen, Austin (McKelle) Schaugaard, Kemry, Maycee & Titan Schaugaard, Stratton, Marley, Torah & Tatym Johnson, Tenley, Ryder, & Easton Johnson, Paislee, Zeek, & Mack Dimond.
Russ was a man of many passions. He was an avid theater enthusiast and enjoyed teaching drama at Kearns and Taylorsville High Schools for over 30 years. Teaching was one of his greatest passions. He made countless friends during this time, and was a role model and mentor to many. Russell loved Disney, especially Mickey Mouse, and worked at Disney World after retiring in 2002. He enjoyed traveling with his family and students, especially to Disney Land and New York City. In addition to teaching, Russell was a master sergeant in the Army Reserves and proudly served his country. Russell was also a skilled barber and enjoyed giving haircuts to family and friends.
Russell was a devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission in Scotland from 1966-1968, where he developed a love for the Scottish people and culture. He served in the conference center, and as a temple worker at the Jordan River and Draper Utah Temples. He was also a director of the Hill Cumorah Pageant, where he combined his love of the church with his love for theater.
Russell had been struggling with dementia and diabetes in his later years, and despite receiving exceptional care from his family, his health had been gradually declining. He ultimately passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loved ones. Russell was preceded in death by his wife, Cheryl Johnson, and his parents, Raymond and Geraldine Johnson. He is survived by his children, grandchildren, and siblings Radene Johnson, Dee (Kris) Johnson, and Dale (Cathy) Johnson. The legacy that he left behind through his passion for teaching and his kindhearted nature will live on through the lives of his family, friends, and countless students he taught during his life. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
Funeral services for Russ will be held at 11AM on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at the Mt. Jordan 4th Ward, 235 East Sego Lily Drive, In Sandy, Utah. A viewing will be held at the same location Friday evening, April 14, 2023 from 6-8PM, and again Saturday morning prior to services beginning at 10AM. Interment to follow in the Larkin Sunset Gardens Cemetery in Sandy, Utah.
Funeral services will be streamed via Zoom for those wishing to attend virtually. You must have a free personal Zoom account to watch the services. To watch the streamed services, click the "Watch Services" link above.
I graduated in 1984. Out of all my teachers, I think back with fondness on Russ the most. When any of my children were in musicals I was reminded of how blessed I was to have had the blessing to have learned from Russ. I know of no other teacher at T-ville who went out of their way to attend mission farewells and homecomings and weddings. We knew he cared for us, and celebrated our successes. He was a true minister and a disciple of Christ. Yes, even teachers can be disciples.
Thanks Russell. I look forward to happily hugging and thanking you again one day.
My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Russ. He was the single most influential teacher in my life, as he was for many. Russ had a way of connecting with his students on an individual level. He KNEW each of us, and he cheered us all on in just the way we individually needed. He had a gift for seeing every persons greater potential. Thank you for sharing Russ with all of us.
Russell was my first best friend. We met in 2nd grade at Lynn elementary school in Ogden. We had a blast that year and we stayed connected through Jr High and High school at Ben Lomond. He was always so much fun to be around. He was an amazing theatre lover and I remember him charging up the staircase in his roll in Arsenic and Old Lace. His enthusiasm for that roll was a statement of him and the impact he had on so many lives. He has always been an inspiration to those around him. He will be missed but never forgotten. Thank you Russ.
Sending my love and respects to the Johnson fam. I wish I could be there to see all the family together. I am happy to have known Russ and know he is in a better place. He finally gets to reunite with Fro, my second mom. Love you guys!
I don't think I know of a member of the Ben Lomond High School class as '65 who was as universally liked as Russell Johnson. We "caught up" and communicated on occasion in later life and he clearly remained a a sweetheart of a person and a man of delightful talents.
I am richer for having known him and those of you who are fortunate enough to carry some of his DNA are truly blessed.
Russ is a wonderful teacher, director, mentor and friend. He left an indelible impression on me beginning with my interactions with him in his classes and plays at Taylorsville high school and continuing through my adult years. The most recent interaction I had with him was his visit with me and my family at my home in California when he was in town for a trip to Disney. He is truly one of those teachers whose influence extends far beyond the classroom. And I knew that he cared about me as a person not just as a student in his class or a cast member in a play. He has left a powerful legacy of friendship and love. Russ will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends like me who are mourning his passing. God bless Russ Johnson.
Russ was always a great person, even clear back in high school. He was one of those people who always seemed to do the right thing under any circumstances. He was humble, and modest, and a great person to able to call "friend." It was a great honor to know him!
You are missed my old friend. Heven is getting a wonderful spirit.
Surely Russell Johnson was the walking reflection of all the Divine intended when He said, "Let us make man in our own image." Kind, caring, tender, funny, always putting the highest good of the other before his own, Russell's every gesture was an act of love. We began our friendship when we were 16 and stepped on stage together for the first time to live our dream of storytelling. Fast forward well into our late 60's and he surprised me backstage with a dozen red roses and the hug of an old friend. I will treasure his dearness forever. 'Break a leg', my buddy.
What an incredible influence he continues to have on my life. I have read all the messages here and on Facebook and it simply reinforces all I know about the man. Russ changed lives for the better in so many ways. I will miss you my friend.
I went to school with Russ in high school. To say it simply. To know him was to love him. He was a kind and lovable soul who shared so much of himself with everyone. I felt lucky to call him my friend. I’m sure his kids and grandkids will tell his stories and share his love for life for generations. RIP my friend, you will be missed.
Dear Johnson family,
I’m saddened to see the passing of this wonderful man. I was a student at THS from 1981-1984. I performed in many productions during those years. I traveled to NYC my Junior year. I have fond memories of that trip and all Russell shared.
My life was deeply changed by having him as a teacher. I mourn with you. Godspeed Russell
Minda Homer Kjar
Ben Lomond Class of 1965 sends their Love and Condollences on the loss of a GREAT SCSOT and Father, Grandfather, Brother, He will be missed. "RIP FELLOW SCOT"
Russell was a talented and fun person. I am sure he will be missed. Best to the family.
One good Friend has left for the other side RIP Russ
I'm sending my condolences to the family. Russ and I grew up together in the same sub-division. We played night games, shared best friends and had wonderful memories of going to school together. His father was once our Bishop. We had Drama class together where he excelled and went on to use it through his life. I will truly miss him. My prayers and thoughts are with you all. My heart hurts too at this time.
Russ was one of the first teachers to see who I would become, not who I was. I am truly blessed to know him.
Thanks for the Haircuts and introducing us to the world of Theatre!!
Johnson's you've made a lasting impression on me!
Some of my best memories growing up was your family!
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Russ and I were pretty close. After high school I made him be my barber. I knew he learned to be a barber in the army. He cut hair just ok, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to keep in touch with him and this was the best way to do it. During one of our haircuts he asked me to be in a THS alumni production of The Fantasticks. He wanted me to be El Gallo. It was so much fun meeting other T-Ville alumni and rehearsing. I knew I drove him nuts with my rampant improv and mediocre singing, but he still always laughed. Years later after I got married he gave my wife and I a tour of NYC on our first anniversary. In true Russ fashion we saw a Broadway show every night. He knew all the good places to go. We will never forget it. Russ was one of a kind.
Russ, you always believed in me, you trusted me and you supported me. You were one of a kind. The giant legacy you have left will continue on forever. I love you dearly. Though your curtain has gone down, our show must go on. Love you forever. ❤️
I was SBO vice president class of 98. Russ was such a good mentor and friend. So many good memories from the silly to serious. I remember once he accused me of hugging him so hard that I bruised his rib. I should have gone a little lighter on those hugs I suppose. But mostly I remember he really cared. Kids can tell when you care and he let us know that in action. I had so many good heart to hearts with him late after school was over just talking in the sbo office or little theater. He was a great man and will be missed.
Russell is one of the most kind, gentle, caring individuals I’ve ever met. As a young child seemingly lost at large family parties, Russ ALWAYS found me. He was genuinely interested in my little life and I knew he cared about me. While he was my far older cousin, with very little in common, he never swayed in his kindness or interest in me. While I didn’t know it then, in some small way, those moments and that relationship began to shape my life for the good. I’m so grateful for his example to me. What an incredible legacy he left!
What a zest for life you always had, Russell! You always added extra light and life to every space you graced. There are so many happy memories of all our drama, music and church related interactions. Good times! Sincere condolences to family and friends.
I just loved Russell!!! We went to Ben Lomond together. He was a year ahead. I was in the same class with Radene. Love you too Radene. Russ was so much fun and we all had an absolute blast together. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Linda Fishburn West
I loved Russell!! We attended Ben Lomond High together. He was a year ahead. Radene was in my class. Love you too, Radene. Russ was so much fun and we all had an absolute blast together. I am so sorry for your loss.
Linda Fishburn West
Sending my love, condolences and prayers to Russ's family and friends. I was a student body officer under Russ's guidance in 1996. He was a wonderful man, and it was a year I will never forget! Russ loved the students at Taylorsville High School like his own. He was so caring and kind and was such a wonderful example to all who had the opportunity to interact with him! So many fun memories, laughs and inside jokes, but he always knew when we needed guidance and a good serious talk about life. I'll never forget the special treat of ZCMI mints at Christmas, the sparkle in his eyes when he talked about his wife, of course the running joke of the toupee, singing early in the morning when we were all only half awake, the teasing, and most of all the love. Russ, we love you! Your legacy will never be forgotten!