Leigh M. Johnson, 88, of Pitman, N.J., formerly of Massillon, Ohio, passed away March 9 after a short illness. Born July 19, 1930, in Trevose, Pa., the son of Harold Pownall Johnson and Elinor Buckman Johnson, he graduated from Bensalem (Pa.) HS, earned a BS degree in geology from University of Pittsburgh and did graduate work in ceramic engineering at Rutgers University. A child of the Depression, he spent summers as a boy doing farm work alongside his beloved Aunt Alice, and as a young man worked as a bowling alley pinsetter and sheet metal worker.
In 1954 he married the love of his life, Mary Patricia Robinson Johnson, to whom he was deeply devoted. They met at Chez Vous Ballroom near her home in Philadelphia.
A materials scientist who worked more than 35 years for firms that included TRW, IBM, NL Industries and the Franklin Institute, Leigh was a patent holder. He enjoyed conducting experiments in the garage of his lifelong friend, Howard Bates, into his late 80's.
Leigh's experience as a Korean War Army cook spurred a lifelong love of baking. He also enjoyed vegetable gardening, jazz, motorcycles and writing letters to the editor. He relished trips to the Jersey Shore and exploring the New Jersey Pinelands.
Long before it was popular, Leigh rode his bike to work and on errands. A gymnast in his youth, he enjoyed weight lifting and used the fitness center at his assisted living community until recently. A deeply religious man and social justice advocate, Leigh modeled the values of charity, kindness and selflessness. In retirement he was a GED tutor, cooked at Atlantic City and Massillon soup kitchens, and taught and tutored Walsh University inorganic chemistry students. Leigh loved visiting the library and was a voracious reader, devouring everything from the Progressive Populist to scientific literature to mysteries. He was a curious person who never met a stranger, and often drew people into conversation about themselves.
Leigh was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Constance Stackpole, and brother, Victor Johnson. Leigh is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Mary Patricia Robinson Johnson; four children, Kathleen Corbalis (Mark) of Galloway Twp., N.J.; Mark Johnson (Keil) of Herndon, Va., Judy Szink (Rick) of Tampa, Fla.; and Linda Johnson (Curtis Caton) of Oakland, Calif.; seven grandchildren: Jay Corbalis; Jennie, Emily and Matthew Szink; Isaiah and Leilani Johnson; and Holden Johnson-Booth.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to World Vision at www.worldvision.org or the United Methodist Communities Foundation, 535 N. Oak Ave, Pitman, NJ 08071. They are grateful to the staff of UMC at Pitman for the tireless and loving care provided to Leigh.
A memorial service will be held in the spring.