Dr. Richard D. Johnson

Dr. Richard D. Johnson, a former resident of Los Altos Hills, passed away on Nov. 26, 2020 in Pleasanton, CA at the age of 86.  He was born in Zanesville, OH but grew up in Whitefish Bay, WI.  He attended the American University in Cairo, Egypt and the Sorbonne in Paris, France before transferring to Oberlin College where he received his A.B. in Chemistry in 1956; earned an M.S. and Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon in 1960 and 1962; and did a Post-Doc at UCLA in 1963.  After a brief stint at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Richard was invited to join NASA at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA where he worked from 1964 to 1985.

Richard’s proudest accomplishments at NASA were as a member of the team that first examined the Apollo 11 lunar samples in the Lunar Quarantine Facility at Johnson Spacecraft Center before they were released to the scientific community; his work on Viking, the first spacecraft to land on Mars, which earned him NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal; and his work on the joint NASA-Stanford 1975 Summer Study that culminated in the publication of Space Settlements: A Design Study.  After earning his M.S. in Management as a Sloan Fellow at MIT (1981-1982), Richard took early retirement from NASA and worked as an international technology consultant for Stanford Research Institute.

His later years were spent cultivating his photographic talents and exhibiting them at local galleries in Pleasanton and Livermore.  With his wife of 50 years Caye, he shared a love of genealogy and the two traveled throughout the US and Europe meeting distant relatives, and seeing the farms, ranches, and towns their ancestors called home.

Richard is survived by his wife, Caye (Collins), brother Roger (Lori Dyson), his children, Lauri (Mike LaFave), Millicent (deceased), Karen (Kevin McHugh), Eric (Stephanie Pascal), and Gregory (Christine Mullen), his four grand-children, Ailea (Jeremy Clarkson), Annika, Sascha, Ian, and Persephone, his two great-grandchildren Emmitt and Logan, and his two nieces, Allison (Doug Crawford) and Erika (Greg Story).

The family will be holding a private service at a future date.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Los Altos History Museum or the Tri-Valley Conservancy.

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