Rhinebeck – Oliver W. Johnson Jr., 85, a longtime resident of Rhinebeck, passed away at MidHudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center on March 7, 2022, with his long-time partner, Dorothy Baran, by his side.
Born in Calhoun County, Mississippi on September 22, 1936, he was the son of the late Oliver and Lavelle (Davis) Johnson Sr. Oliver, “Ollie,” received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State at the age of 19, then began working for IBM in Dutchess Country, New York, where he met his wife, Christine Mabie. He then served in the United States Air Force in the Strategic Air Command and received his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. Ollie’s career with IBM spanned thirty-three years, and he retired in 1989.
Following his retirement from IBM, Ollie formed a business consulting company. During that time, he became active in the Poughkeepsie Area Chamber of Commerce. There, he was the lead designer of the region's first economic development forum called "The Strategic Direction Conference". Ollie was also a founding member of "The Dutchess Alliance for Human Needs", an organization that successfully worked to address the social issues created by the region's large scale job losses during the 1990's. Those efforts, as part of "Team Dutchess" and "Hudson Valley Focus", went a long way to helping the region make a speedy recovery from the early 90's jobs losses.
Ollie moved to Rhinebeck in 2010, and he became an active part of the community. He helped set up Rhinebeck@Home, served on the Council of the Lifetime Learning Institute at Bard College, as well as serving on the board of the Starr Library.
Ollie was a fly fisherman, a hunter, an experienced gardener, a good dancer. He loved to collect and wear unusual socks.
Ollie will be remembered for his intelligence and analytical mind, his kindness and compassion, his lifelong thirst for learning and willingness to try new things, his resilience, resourcefulness, and ever-positive attitude in the face of life’s challenges, and his easy laughter and warm embrace.
Ollie was predeceased by his parents, his wife of 49 years, Christine (Mabie) Johnson, and his brother William C. Johnson. He is survived by daughters, Dr. Jacqueline Johnson Castagno and Jill Johnson Rendeiro, his partner of fourteen years, Dorothy Baran, his brother, Eddie L. Johnson, and five grandchildren, Christopher Rendeiro, Autumn Rendeiro, Caroline Rendeiro Anna Castagno, and Michael Castagno.
There are no calling hours. A celebration of Ollie’s life will be held for family and friends at a later date. Memorial donations in honor of Ollie can be made to the Rhinebeck Fire Department Ambulance Fund, www.rhinebeckfd.com.
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