In Memory

Russell Neil Johnson, boardmember, Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System

September 19, 2012

Russell Neil Johnson, 61, of Sterling, passed away on Sept. 11, in Sterling.

Russell Neil JohnsonRuss was born in Sterling on March 26, 1951, to Orville and Catherine (Norman) Johnson. He was raised on the family farm in the Burdett community of Washington County, and graduated from the Lone Star School in 1969. Russ continued his education at Colorado State University graduating in 1973, magna cum laude and No. 1 scholastically in the College of Business, with a degree in accounting. While at CSU he met Cinthia Lee Kleis and the two were married on June 9, 1973, in Lincoln, Neb.

Following college graduation Russ went to work for Touche Ross and Company, CPAs in Denver, moving to their Sterling branch in 1974. The firm underwent several changes over the years, until 1999, when Johnson became an owner and managing partner of Johnson and Associates, CPAs, PC.

Concurrent with his career in accounting, Russ worked and expanded the family farm east of Sterling, raising wheat, corn, proso, hay crops and cattle. It was here that he and Cindy raised two sons, Abe and Matt. Life in rural northeast Colorado held special significance to Russ; this was where he wanted to be and where he wanted to raise his family.

Service to community was an important part of Russ's life. He was an active member and past elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Sterling. He served on the Sterling Regional MedCenter Hospital Board for 15 years, acting as chairman during construction of the new hospital in 1989. He was a member of the Colorado State Fair Board for 11 years, serving as vice chairman from 2003-2008. At the time of his death Russ was the financial adviser to the Premier Farm Credit Board and a member of the Wells Fargo Bank Board. He was honored to be appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper to the Colorado State University Board of Governors this past year.

Russ was an avid supporter of 4-H and FFA, actively recruiting buyers and purchasing animals for numerous businesses at the 4-H/FFA Livestock Auctions in Logan and Washington counties for many years. He was an enthusiastic contributor to music, athletic and scholastic programs in regional schools and at Northeastern Junior College. It was his great honor to be named Citizen of the Year by the Logan County Chamber of Commerce in 2010.

Russ was known in northeast Colorado for his collection of real-photo turn-of-the-century postcards. Many of these were shared with individuals and displayed in businesses throughout the area. As a result, he was privileged to be awarded the Northeast Colorado Historical Society's Sharing with the Community Award in 2011. Russ also enjoyed farm sales, antique tractors, collecting farm primitives, the Johnson and Associates Relay For Life Barbecue, and participating in the Logan County Fair Parade. These simple small-town pleasures were some of the highlights in Russ's life.

Russ is survived by his wife, Cindy; and two sons, Abe and wife Kelli of Firestone, and Matt and wife Cindy of Sterling. He was blessed with four grandchildren, Calvin, Grant, Madie and Lilly.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Orville and Catherine Johnson.

It was Russ's request that memorials be made to the Northeastern Junior College Foundation, 100 College Avenue, Sterling, CO 80751, to support the HOPE Scholarship program.

This obituary was originally printed in the Sterling Journal-Advocate: http://www.journal-advocate.com/sterling-obituaries/ci_21525132/russell-neil-johnson


Contact: Nik Olsen
E-mail: Nik.Olsen@colostate.edu
Phone: 491-5507