Van Johnson, Chief Project Engineer at NPI’s control system, c. 1960



Van Johnson, Chief Project Engineer at NPI’s control system, c. 1960




Van Lear Johnson was born October 17th, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After high school, he received his electronics diploma from Spring Garden Technical School. In 1955, Johnson enlisted in the United State Air Force and served in the Korean War. He served in the military as an Airman First Class until 1959. During this time, Johnson was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base, where he met his wife, Freddie Powell Johnson, PhD, RN, a local nurse and UNMC College of Nursing alumna.

Johnson began his career at NPI on April 23rd, 1956. Under the direction of Cecil Wittson, MD, Johnson managed the installation and operation of the first CCTV system in the United States. In 1963, as the chief project engineer working closely with Reba Benschoter, PhD, he was involved in the planning and implementation of the first long distance two-way medical television system in the country. In 1968, Johnson was appointed chief television engineer and later manager of television services in Biomedical Communications, UNMC’s campus-wide media service. In this position he led the development, installation, and operation of new educational technology systems in every building constructed at UNMC until his retirement in 1994. Johnson’s management of the statewide educational television network to support interactive rural health education made UNMC a national leader in distance learning programs.

Johnson passed away on October 12th, 2009.




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