Age 93, of Grand Ledge, MI, passed away on April 4, 2017. He was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on March 17, 1924, to Francis and Fern (Mastellar) Johnson. His family later moved to East Detroit, where he graduated and was a two-time state champion wrestler. Don attended Michigan State University, where he pursued a degree in Education and was a member of the wrestling team. His education was interrupted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He and his brother quickly decided to enlist in the military. Don transferred to Western Michigan University to attend Naval Officer training. There he met his future bride, Jean, who preceded him in death on August 11, 2007. He was deployed in the South Pacific during WWII as an Underwater Demolitions Specialist. After completing his military obligation, he returned to MSU to complete his degree. Don was named captain of the wrestling team in 1947, and went on to become an All-American in his weight class.
Don treasured his long career as a teacher, coach, and principal at Lansing Eastern High School, retiring in 1983. His devotion to education, sports, and his students resulted in a stellar career and he was honored by having the Lansing Eastern Fieldhouse named after him. He coached five State Championship teams and 53 individual State Champions while at Eastern. Don was inducted into the Eastern High School Hall of Fame, the Greater Lansing and State of Michigan Halls of Fame, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Norman, OK. He was extremely proud of the high standards and academic achievements of the Eastern students.
Surviving are his 3 daughters, Susan (David) Rhinard, Cindy (Gen. Robert) Taylor, and Linda (Chuck) Schram. He also leaves behind 8 beloved grandchildren, Dr. Theodore (Rosie) Glynn, Lisa (Joseph) Thompson, Kimberly (Daniel) Snyder, Amanda (Marshall) Perkins, Nicholas Glynn, Meredith (Brian) Hawkins, Sean (Lana) Rhinard, Robert (Tonya) Rhinard, as well as 17 great-grandchildren.
The Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at St. Gerard Catholic Church, 4437 W. Willow, Lansing, with the Rev. Fr. David Fons as Celebrant. The Rite of Committal will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Monday, where the Scripture Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Mr. Johnson will lie-in-state at the Church from 9:30 a.m. until service time on Tuesday. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice House of Mid-Michigan, c/o the Sparrow Foundation.