William M. Johnson, 76, died unexpectedly on July 27, 2010, in Bangor after a long and courageous battle with heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Born in Portland Dec. 21, 1933, he was the only child of William Vose and Margaret (McDuffie) Johnson. He was a 1951 graduate of Deering High School in Portland and graduated in 1955 from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., with a major in journalism and minor in sociology. While at Rutgers, he met Linnea Gunnarson, his future wife.

After college, he worked in the newsroom of the Plainfield, N.J., Courier News, then enlisted in the Air Force and was editor-in-chief of the base newspapers for Turner AFB in Albany, Ga., and McGuire AFB in Wrightstown, N.J., winning several top USAF newspaper awards.

For the next 29 years, Bill worked in various public relations roles throughout Bell Laboratories and American Telephone and Telegraph. His first 11 years with Bell included a 2-and-a-half-year assignment on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, during the Nike X project. An avid classical music and high-end audio buff, he started the first FM station on the island.

From there he spent two years at NY Telephone Corporate headquarters in New York City, and finally 13 years at AT&T corporate headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J. He was speechwriter for the AT&T chairman of the board and president, and a member of the steering committee concerned with the public relations aspect of the breakup of the Bell System in 1984.

A resident of Chatham, N.J., from 1963 to 1988, Bill loved to sing and act in community theater. He was a member of the Rutgers University Choir and Glee Club, Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church Choir (Plainfield, N.J.), and the Somerset Hills Community Music Theater. His favorite role was Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” He was a member of Chatham Fish and Game, and loved to play the emcee at the annual variety show in the summer.

In 1989 he moved to Belfast and was publisher and co-owner of North Country Press. A longtime member of Saint Margaret’s Episcopal Church, he enjoyed managing the Sunday afternoon concert serie,s as well as singing in the sanctuary choir. His bass voice was also heard as a member of the Penobscot Bay Singers. Always one to give back to the community, he served as president of the board of volunteers for Waldo County Hospice.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linnea, of Belfast; two sons, Eric and his wife, Heidi, of Manchester Center, Vt., and Chris and his wife, Eileen, of Topsham; and four grandsons, Drew and Devin of Manchester Center, Vt., and Brian and Steven of Topsham.

A celebration of his life will be held at Saint Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Court and Elm streets, Saturday, Aug. 7, at 10 a.m., followed by a time of fellowship in the parish hall.

Memorial donations can be made to St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 95 Court St., Belfast, ME 04915 or Waldo County Hospice, 118 Northport Ave., P.O. Box 287, Belfast, ME 04915.

Arrangements are with Crabiel-Riposta Funeral Home, Belfast. Online condolences may be offered to the family at ripostafh.com.