Lorin Keith Johnson (1923-1987)
Lorin Keith Johnson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 14, 1923. His family moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1925, and then to Provo, Utah in 1929, where Lorin spent the rest of his childhood. Born one of four boys to the prominent businessman Heber C. Johnson and his wife Ella, Lorin was particularly drawn to the performing arts, and regularly participated in drama, theatre and dance. Although not much is known about his life before the war, it is reported that he attended the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, the Los Angeles Art Center, Kenyon College in Ohio, Alliance Francaise, and the Ecole Nationale Superieure in Paris, as well as speaking four languages and receiving Honors in Art.
He served in the U.S. Army Officers’ Reserve Corps as well as in the Signal Service Battalion at the Supreme Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in 1944, before receiving a transfer to the MFAA in July 1945. As a clerk-typist, Johnson typed reports and managed files for the Monuments Men in Germany at the MFAA Branch of the U.S. Group Control Council for Germany (USGCC). In February 1946 he chose to civilianize in order to continue his duties at the MFAA Branch of the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone. He returned to Utah in September 1946, and was awarded with two battle stars.
Of his three brothers, two also served in the US Armed Forces. Dr Rulon Johnson served in the Dental Corps stationed at Fort DuPont, Delaware, and his elder brother Bob served in England. Sadly Lt. Bob W. Johnson was killed in the Normandy invasion on June 30, 1944, and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. This was not the only loss for Lorin while he was stationed abroad; his first wife died while he was away in 1942.
After having returned to the US in 1946, Lorin joined the University of Lousiville, Kentucky, as a vocational counsellor, and assisted the Architect-in-Residence in the planning and transformation of the campus. In 1951 he moved west, working in a number of retail men’s stores before buying a store in 1957 in Sausalito with his business partner, forming Johnson & Gray. In the years that followed not much is known about Johnson’s life. We do know however that he started a second store in San Francisco in 1974, which he then sold in 1978 to move into retirement.
Lorin Johnson died in San Diego, California on May 4, 1987 at the age of 64, following a short struggle with Hodgkin’s disease.