Col. Theodore Johnson

Obituary of Col. Theodore A. Johnson

Col Theodore A. Johnson (Ret), In Memoriam (July 25, 1940 – February 19, 2024)

Ted Johnson was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to Russell and Pauline Johnson. Ted lived in Lenox, Iowa from 1953 until 1960 (graduated from Lenox High School in 1958). He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1962 and completed his master’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, in 1967.

Ted served with distinction in the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1990, achieving the rank of Colonel in March 1985.  He held a variety of financial management and administrative positions throughout his military career, including that of audit manager with the Air Force Audit Agency and as a procurement officer with USAF Systems Command.  His last assignment in the military was Director of Operations for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, directing the planning and financial management of the Air Force Basic Research Program, and Deputy Director Munitions Control (Technical) for the Defense Technology Security Administration.  His career achievements included the Legion of Merit in 1990 and the Air Force Meritorious Service Award in 1973, 1977, 1980 and 1983.  

After his retirement from the Air Force, Ted continued his legacy of public service at the US Department of Commerce from 1991 to 1998, where he served as chief of the Finance Division and was then promoted to Director of Financial Policy and Assistance, providing financial expertise, accounting and statement preparation guidance to the entire Department. Following a three-year assignment at the International Trade Administration, Ted joined the US Census Bureau in 2001 as the Associate Director for Finance and Administration, and was later appointed to the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 2004 as the Associate Director for Administration and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). In 2013, Ted was appointed as the Associate Director for Performance Improvement at the Census Bureau, and held that position until his retirement in 2017. Ted was an outstanding financial manager and leader, receiving the Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award in 2000, the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award in 1999 and the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Group Award in 1993.

Ted will ultimately be remembered by those who knew and loved him as a kind, generous and witty man, but also as a dedicated and humble servant of others. An enduring memory will be of the love and pride he had for his grandchildren.

Ted's passing has left a significant void in the lives of his colleagues, friends and loved ones.  His legacy is a reminder of the core values of the Air Force, inspiring others to follow in his footsteps of making a difference, no matter the circumstance.

Survivors include his wife, (separated) Sandra (Wade) Johnson of Grand Junction, CO; his children, Wade M. Johnson (Pasang Sherpa Johnson) also of Grand Junction, Polly J. Edwards (Victor Brown) of Seabrook Island, SC; and his four grandchildren, Peter Sherpa Johnson and Maya Yangie Johnson, of Grand Junction, CO and Austin Neel Edwards and Sarah Carleigh Edwards of Seabrook Island, SC. Ted also leaves behind Loan Nguyen (of Falls Church) – his partner of many years.  Other dear loved ones include many other friends and extended family members.

Theodore A. Johnson, Col. USAF, Ret, will be buried with full military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Tunnel to Towers Foundation (

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