GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. — Prescott K. Johnson died peacefully July 21, 2021. Pres had just finished swimming laps at one of the community recreation centers. He climbed out of the pool, sat down in a lounge chair, placed his hand over his heart and closed his eyes. His middle son, Scott, held him in his arms as he passed away. Pres was 91 years of age.

Pres is survived by his three sons, Kent, Scott and Blake; his daughters‐in‐law, Debi Elzinga, Mella Mincberg and Tami Johnson; his grandchildren, Brooks Johnson, Gabriela Van Eperen and her husband Daniel, Aaron Johnson, Marlena Johnson, Alana Johnson‐Mincberg and Nora Johnson; and his four great-grandchildren.

Pres was born in Norwood, Mass., June 4, 1930, the son of Albert Kent Johnson and Eleanor Farley Gove. He had an older sister he loved very much, Nancy, who preceded him in death.

Not long after Pres’s birth, the family moved to Belfast. Growing up in the seaside town, Pres had many jobs, including setting pins at the local bowling alley, delivering The Republican Journal newspaper, lifeguarding at the saltwater City Pool, and helping his father before and after school at the family’s ice‐cutting and delivery company.

In Belfast, he met the love of his life, Darolyn L. Mooers (Dee), who passed away in 2015. Pres mourned her the rest of his life, and always insisted that most of what “he” achieved was the fruit of her constant help and inspiration.

They were married July 18, 1953, shortly before Pres left for Korea as a second lieutenant and platoon commander with the Army Intelligence Division. In Korea, following the armistice, he was one of the key officers responsible for the care and safe repatriation of a large contingent of Chinese POWs, a politically sensitive and logistically complex task.

Following the success of that important mission, Pres was assigned supervision of one of the biggest orphanages in Korea, where most of the children had lost their parents to the war. Pres organized a significant supply chain of donated goods to the orphanage, and to this day, the orphanage has an assembly hall named in honor of Lt. Prescott K. Johnson.

Upon his return from military service, Pres pursued and received his master’s degree from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., and was soon named the YMCA director in Westfield, Mass. Determined to further study the science of physical education and athletic training, he was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, as a recipient of the John R. Mott Fellowship Award.

The university had built an elaborate altitude chamber, and Pres, knowing that the 1968 Mexico City Olympics would involve performing at unusual elevation, developed his doctoral dissertation on athletic training programs for high-altitude competition. His dissertation proved to play an important role in the U.S. training program for the Mexico Olympics.

Indeed, Pres had himself been an Olympic prospect for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki: At the University of Maine, he had one of the top hammer throws in the nation. But his ROTC commitment to serve his country took precedence over his track and field talents.

In 1962, Pres joined the YMCA International Committee as a fraternal secretary of the YMCA, where he served on the committee staff of the South American Federation of YMCAs in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the roles of physical education specialist and coordinator of the physical education curriculum. In this capacity, he taught in the Instituto Técnico, the South/Central America/Mexico college for the training of future YMCA executives and physical education specialists throughout Latin America.

This, of course, required that he quickly become proficient in the Spanish language. Both he and Dee engaged in a seven‐month crash course, and after nine years in Uruguay, they and their three boys were highly fluent in the language. While in Uruguay, Pres authored three books on physical education training, published by Editorial Paidos. When the family moved back to the States in the early 1970s, they each carried with them a profound and lifelong love for Uruguay and its people.

Back in the U.S., Pres worked with YMCAs in Milwaukee, Wis.; Portland, Ore.; the West Region Field of the USA; and New York City. After retiring from the Y, Pres played a lead role in the foundation of the World Fellowship of YMCA Retirees, which is now an international organization that aids former Y professionals in financial need.

As well, after his Y career, Pres had a leadership role in the New Jersey Head Injury Association, and his tireless work resulted in the first statewide law in the United States mandating the use of helmets by minors on bicycles. Following the passage of the New Jersey law and its dramatic reduction of head injury and death of children, many more states soon followed with similar resolutions.

Pres was awarded a special commendation by the New Jersey State Legislature and the Office of the Governor for his landmark contribution to bicycle safety. Because most kids everywhere have come to wear helmets while riding, it is safe to say that his pioneering work in that area literally prevented serious trauma or death for thousands of children over the following decades. In 1995, Pres was inducted into the YMCA Hall of Fame, housed at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

Pres and Dee moved to Green Valley, Ariz., in 1991, for their retirement years. It would prove to be, however, more of a life of busy‐bee activity and service. For a quarter-century, the couple taught hundreds of students on a pro bono basis, offering residents in Green Valley free and fun Spanish classes, along with yearly extended trips to the Probigua Language School in Antigua, Guatemala.

Pres and Dee fell in love with the school and raised, over the years, tens of thousands of dollars in contributions toward educational scholarships for poor indigenous families in the Antigua region. Their beloved Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, in Sahuarita, Ariz., continues the program to this day.

Pres was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, and of both the University of Arizona men’s basketball team and its women’s softball team. Of golf, he was more properly a fanatic, and in a round with his youngest son, Blake, shortly before his passing, he “hit his age.” It was a fittingly great cap to his long devotion to the game. Most of all, however, he was a devoted fan of his children, his daughters‐in‐law, and his grandchildren and great‐grandchildren, all of whom will miss him dearly. He lived a worthy, generous and ethical life. He has friends and admirers far and wide.

Services to celebrate his life are tentatively planned for the afternoon of Oct. 30 at Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Ariz. If so inspired, donations may be made via check to the “Good Shepherd UCC” (reference “Probigua Scholarship” in the memo line), and mailed to The Good Shepherd, 17750 South La Cañada Drive, Sahuarita, AZ 85629.

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