Black History Month: Dr. Johnson was committed to his community

February 28, 2014

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William Johnson, M.D.
Editor's note: This is the final in a series of stories published for Black History Month on African-American medical pioneers. This information was taken from a biography of Dr. William Johnson created for his memorial service.

William H. Johnson, M.D., was born on July 8, 1926 in Rosedale, Kan., the son of William Henry and Imogene Johnson. The family then moved to Kansas City, Mo., where Dr. Johnson excelled academically, graduating with honors from Lincoln High School.

Following his years in Kansas City, Dr. Johnson enrolled at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. His education there was interrupted by a call to serve in the U.S. Army in the Pacific theater. After his honorable discharge, Dr. Johnson returned to the University of Kansas, where he received his B.A. summa cum laude. He graduated from the Creighton University School of Medicine with honors in 1955.

His internship was completed at St. Catherine's Hospital, after which he began his training in surgery at the Omaha Veterans Administration Hospital. Dr. Johnson completed his training in 1960, serving as chief resident of the surgery service. He was then certified by the American Board of Surgery and was appointed as a clinical instructor of surgery at the Creighton University School of Medicine and St. Joseph Hospital. He was elected a fellow of the prestigious American College of Surgeons in 1968.

Although Dr. lohnson was among the first black board-certified surgeons in Omaha, he also included family medicine in his practice due to the demand for such services in the North Omaha community. Dr. Johnson made a personal commitment to continue serving within the community.

Over the ensuing years, Dr. Johnson's practice saw tremendous growth, requiring him to construct the Johnson Medical Building, located at 29th and Manderson streets, in 1963. At the time of its opening, the facility was the first clinic located in North Omaha to provide comprehensive medical care. He practiced medicine at the location from 1963 until his death in 1995. He was one of the few physicians who would make house calls and continued to do so throughout his career.

Dr. Johnson was a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and maintained active memberships in the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the Metropolitan Omaha Medical Society, and Phi Beta Pi medical fraternity. He was one of the founding members of the Charles Drew Medical Center.

Dr. Johnson's compassion, warmth, and charitable spirit were extended to all he encountered without reservation during his many years of serving the Omaha community.

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Ira Combs
February 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

I remember Dr Johnson, he did house calls and everything, he was the doctor that removed my tonsils and di my high school and college physicals, great doctor.

Larry Walker
February 28, 2014 at 6:13 AM

I remember Dr. Johnson. As a kid, I'd gotten cut playing sandlot football. He removed the fourteen stitches from my leg.