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Darrell Johnson's Online Memorial Photo

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Memorial Biography

Darrell Roy Johnson, 59, of Montreal, Quebec, died (date) at (location) surrounded by (family? close friends? or just omit this). He had struggled valiantly following his brain tumour diagnosis in November 2018, always retaining his characteristic sense of humour and wit, but eventually succumbed to the condition. Despite the progression of his cancer and decline in health, the last several months of his life were full of special times with his family, friends, and new acquaintances.

He is survived by his two sons Seth and Zachary Johnson of Nepean, Ontario, his parents David and Evelyn Johnson of Cornwall, Ontario, his brother Greg Johnson of Orleans, Ontario, and his sister, Sharon (Johnson) Yandt of Hillsburgh, Ontario, as well as by many uncles, aunts, cousins, and a great-nephew.

Darrell was born June 21, 1960 in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada to parents David and Evelyn Johnson. He completed his high school education at Great Lakes Christian College in 1977, graduated summa cum laude with a B.Sc. from Oklahoma Christian College in 1981, received his M.Sc. in psychology from the University of Montreal in 1985, and earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Montreal in 1999. Along the way he was awarded just about every academic honour you can earn, and challenged himself by completing his Ph.D. in French, his second language. Darrell ran a successful private counseling practice and enjoyed lecturing on psychology and family counseling at Montreal's McGill University. He loved academia and the college environment, but, like many teachers, disliked grading. He was a member in good standing of the Quebec Order of Psychologists.

Darrell had many diverse interests. Among other things he enjoyed astronomy, reading, long-distance bicycle touring, and canoeing. He loved language and played a mean game of "Words With Friends." He embraced holiday traditions, particularly those of Halloween and Christmas (he was the kind of guy who actually roasted chestnuts over an open fire and tried making his own "figgy pudding"). He loved trees, lamps, pens, and the smell and feel of old books. He adored his mother's baking and always claimed her butter tarts were the best in the world. He loved fresh peaches, herbal teas, blueberry pancakes, and real maple syrup ("NEVER Aunt Jemimah!"). Darrell didn't care much about cars or driving, and longed for the day of self-driving vehicles, which he swore he would buy once readily available. He embraced minimalism as a lifestyle but admitted that he couldn't get rid of books, which he felt were small pieces of himself. He enjoyed analyzing and discussing friends' personalities using the MBTI. He was a big fan of Apple products; his iPhone, gigantic iPad, and Apple Watch were his three biggest material indulgences.

Although he was born in Alberta, Darrell's childhood was spent mostly in Germany and North Bay, Ontario. He was very active in Boy Scouts and had a uniform full of stars and badges. He wrote and illustrated a few original science-fiction stories and began his lifelong fascination with space. Later he played trumpet in his school band, and dabbled in a little acting in a few high school plays. In his college days he traveled throughout the USA, living at various times in Oklahoma and Texas. He participated in several ACU-based mission trips. Over the years he enjoyed (or endured) many interesting jobs including working on dairy and chicken farms, teaching Canadian literature in high school, working in a basket factory, crisis counseling for the Bank of Montreal, selling encyclopedias in the rural South for Southwestern, and lecturing in family therapy at the university level. Fluently bilingual, Darrell eventually settled in Montreal, where he loved the culture, food, and joie de vivre. Old Quebec City and Algonquin Park were two of his favorite escapes, and he enjoyed numerous wilderness canoe adventures in the later along with his family and parents.

Running was one of his keenest passions. He ran several marathons, including the prestigious Boston Marathon in both 2009 and 2010. His personal best marathon time was 2:53:12, achieved in 1984. He also ran numerous 10k runs, two ultra-marathons, a "zombie run" or two, and the inaugural P'tit Train du Nord Marathon in October 2017 (where he had the distinction of being the very last person to cross the starting line due to a misunderstanding about the start time). He always dreamed of running his third Boston and getting a "Boston unicorn" tattoo, but, as it often does, life had other plans.

Darrell could memorize and recall poetry and literature like no one else, and he always had an appropriate pithy quotation or witticism for any occasion. He was a lifelong fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, and the writings of C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Annie Dillard, John Milton, Henry David Thoreau, and Dr. Seuss, among others. He once wrote to "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz to express his appreciation of the strip's deeper messages and received a personal reply from Schulz by mail. He had amassed a respectable private collection of "Jack And The Beanstock" books, one of his favorite childrens stories.

Musically, his tastes favored the singer-songwriter and soft rock genres. Queen, Elton John, Switchfoot, Billy Joel, Gordon Lightfoot, Carole King, Chicago, Coldplay, Joni Mitchell, Harmony, Air Supply, CSNY, Peter Paul & Mary, Kansas, Fleetwood Mac, Michael W. Smith, the Carpenters, and The Beatles were some of his favorites. "Here Comes The Sun" was his all-time #1 favorite song. He also enjoyed classical music, film scores, and some Broadway soundtrack showtunes. He was a good singer, and participated in numerous choral groups over the years. Darrell played trumpet, guitar, and a little piano. He once kissed a blushing young Amy Grant in an alleyway outside Toronto's Massey Hall.

Other passions of his over the years included Camp Manitou, collecting fossils, NASA's Apollo space program, the hope of a manned mission to Mars, and pondering the future of AI (artifical intelligence) and "the Singularity."

Above all else, though, Darrell loved and adored his two adopted sons, Seth and Zach, with whom he shared many of his adventures over the years. Not getting to watch them grow up is undoubtedly one of his deepest regrets.

A celebration of life service for Darrell's family and close friends will be held at (time, date, location). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to The Friends of Algonquin Park (Box 248, Whitney, Ontario, K0J 2M0 or Friends Of Algonquin Park) or Charity Water, two organizations that were near and dear to Darrell's heart.

Please feel free to browse through the photo gallery, and to share your own special memories of Darrell in the Tribute section.