Dana E. Johnson, 58

Dana Johnson

Dana Johnson

FREEPORT — After a long, courageous battle with Frontotemporal Lobe Degeneration (FTD)/early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Dana E. Johnson, age 58, formerly of Harrison, passed peacefully on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. He had been living in Freeport under the kind care of the Hawthorne House staff for two years.

Dana was born in Portland in 1957, and grew up in Westbrook, where he made lifelong friends in his Pride’s Corner neighborhood. His father, Don Johnson, was a staff photographer for the Portland Press Herald as a child Dana was often photographed for news events in the 1960s, such as riding the caboose of the last passenger train to Canada. Dana was an avid swimmer with the Westbrook High School swim team and in later years would tease his family with threats of wearing his old blue and white striped Speedo. His wry sense of humor will be missed. A teacher by nature, Dana graduated from UMF in 1980 with an education degree and moved to Franklin, Va., to teach Special Education. Students and their families continued to write to him thirty years later. He moved back to Maine to teach in the Westbrook School system as a Special Education teacher and later as an elementary teacher at the Canal and Congin Schools. Dana was especially proud of being politically involved with the fight against over-testing, and in July 2011, he participated in the Save Our Schools Protest March in Washington D.C.

Dana’s love of education continued in the summer with his work as waterfront director at Camp Pesquassawassis in Poland, and later as owner of Camp Waganaki in Waterford. He was committed to continuing classic Maine camp traditions such as canoe-building and telling stories around the campfire.

In 1999, Dana and his wife Debbie moved to “Stonecourt,” an old farmhouse in Harrison, where he loved to watch sunsets and look for falling stars. His daughter Jenna Johnson Davis, Esq., of St. Paul, Minn., and son Tucker Johnson of Nainital, India, feel privileged to have had such an involved dad who would read with them every night, and lucky to have had vacation time to hike, camp and ski. Dana was very proud of his kids.

Dana was a man who loved a good cigar and enjoyed his pint of Guiness. He and Deb spent a spectacular 50th birthday in 2007 in Ireland, enjoying both. Dana had a garden that he and the deer enjoyed. He loved riding his John Deere mower, listening to the Sox on the radio, and he built creative furniture from twisted tree branches and old skis.

As the disease progressed, Dana spent a lot of time walking with his faithful mutt, Moxie, by his side. Throughout his long battle with dementia, Dana was incredibly brave. He participated in research studies in California, a drug trial in Maine, and he joined the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

He is survived by his wife Debbie and their children, Jenna and Tucker, his father Don, his mother Jane, and his siblings, Jill and Keith.

A celebration of Dana’s life will be held at noon on Saturday, Nov. 28th, at the Portland Friends Meeting House, 1837 Forest Ave., followed by a Guiness toast at Ri Ra’s Irish Pub, 72 Commercial Street, Portland. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Mid-Coast Walk to End Alz/Hawthorne House Team.

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