Obituary: Larry J. Johnson, longtime employee in environmental health, 68

Larry J. Johnson, a radiation safety specialist in the Office of Environmental Health & Safety at Washington University in St. Louis, died of a heart attack at his home in St. Louis on Friday, April 2, 2021. He was 68.


Johnson joined the university in 1970 as an animal caretaker. After seven years in the role, he moved in to a position in radiation safety, where he worked until retiring in February 2019. 

He returned to the university part-time in July 2019 to assist the radiation safety team.

“Larry was a loved and valued member of our community,” said Dedric Carter, vice chancellor for operations and technology transfer. “Known by some as ‘Mr. Sunshine,’ he brought an energy into the room and a passion for his work at Washington University.”   

Johnson fell in love with St. Louis when he was younger after visiting family for the holidays. Determined to find work in the city, he was sent on interviews by the unemployment office. After his interview at Washington University, he never looked back.

“Larry loved to share the story of the start of his career at WashU and his transition from Arkansas to St. Louis,” Carter said. “He moved from a young man who had never seen an elevator to an accomplished expert on some aspects of radioactive materials within our family. His positive outlook was enjoyed throughout the team in Environmental Health and Safety and around the campus. Such was the impact of Larry’s more than 49 years of service and a life well lived. He will be missed immensely.”

Johnson is survived by his wife, Geraldine, and son, Aaron, of Alexandria, Va. Visitation will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 17, followed by a celebration of life service at 10 a.m., at New Spring Church, 10229 Lewis and Clark Blvd. in St. Louis. Flowers and memories may be shared through the Tribute Archive website.

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