OPN and the Post-Polio Community Mourn the passing of Dr. Ernest (Ernie) W. Johnson

Dr Ernest W. Johnson - 2012 recipient of the OPN Bernice Krumhansl Award

Dr. Ernest W. Johnson
1924 - 2014 | Obituary | Johnson Dr. Ernest W. Johnson, MD, age 90, passed away Tuesday, November 18, 2014, surrounded by family and friends, spending his final hours in the rehab center he helped build, Ohio State University's Dodd Hall. He was born in New Jersey, on January 12, 1924 to parents Ernest and Harriet (Burgess) Johnson, who soon moved to Akron, Ohio, where he spent his youth. Preceding him in death are Joanne, his wife of 62 years, his daughter Jill, and son Walter. Left to mourn his passing are his daughter, Amy (Kevin) Scott of Pataskala, Ohio; wife, Susie Cull; niece, Beverly (Ron) Kristoff; nephew, Jeff (Glenda) Church of Taris, TN; and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Known to all as 'Ernie,' he was a longtime resident of Upper Arlington, devoted member of Riverside United Methodist Church, and servant to the Lord. After graduating from Akron Central High in 1941, Ernie earned distinction as the first draftee selected by the northern Ohio draft board and went on to serve his country as an Army captain in the south Pacific, returning home to Ohio upon war's end. Enrolling at The Ohio State University in 1946, Ernie began what became one of the University's most valuable and enduring relationships first as a student, then as a faculty member. Spanning 57 years, lasting until his retirement (his last of many), in 2012, his tenure is considered the longest in the history of the Ohio State University. After attaining his medical license, Ernie was awarded a fellowship from the National Polio Foundation in 1954. In 1957 he began working on what was then, the world's first medical-school program devoted to the study of physical medicine and rehabilitation, PM&R. Ernie devoted his life to the care of patients suffering from spinal cord injury, Parkinson's, brain injury, stroke, amputation, polio and post polio. He was instrumental in building Dodd Hall into the nationally recognized medical facility that it is today. Serving as PM&R chairman for 37 years beginning in 1963, Ernie is credited as Co-founder of the "creative living" apartment complex, designed to allow disabled adults in need of assistance to live independently. When it opened in 1974, Creative Living was the first complex of its kind in the nation. Additionally he was the world's foremost authority on the use of electromyography (EMG), a diagnostic tool used in diagnosis of nerve and muscle conditions. Author/Co-author of over 150 published articles, 40-year editor of the OSU medical journal and writer of the much beloved "Ernie's Editorials", Dr. Johnson is acknowledged internationally as a preeminent physician within the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. His illustrious career includes a list of awards, accomplishments, titles and distinctions too numerous to list. Though well-deserved, he placed little importance on such accolades. His medical advice was sought by US presidents, world leaders, Coach Hayes, and tens of thousands of everyday people, all of whom he treated with the same respect and compassion. Above all else, Ernie considered himself a teacher. He instructed over 300 Physical Medicine residents, instilling in them his "patient-first" philosophy. To his residents he was the "Chief Wheelie" (see YouTube video "How to do a Wheelchair Wheelie"). To honor him, graduates of the residency program established the Dr. Ernest W. Johnson chair, in the department of PM&R. To his family he was husband, father, grandpa and hero. We loved him dearly, and his absence leaves us broken-hearted. Visitation will be held Friday, November 21, 2014 from 3-5 and 6-9 p.m. at SCHOEDINGER NORTHWEST CHAPEL, 1740 Zollinger Rd., Columbus, OH. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 23, 2014 at Riverside United Methodist Church, 2701 Zollinger Rd., Columbus. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Ernie's memory to Creative Living, 150 W. 10th Ave., Columbus, OH 43201-2093 or to OSU Wexner Medical Centers Ernest W. Johnson MD Residency Support Fund, checks made payable to OSU Foundation sent to OSU WMC Development, Kyle Sebastian 660 Ackerman Rd. Columbus, OH 43202. Visit www.schoedinger.com to share memories or condolences.Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Nov. 20, 2014