Current Issue

Apr.28, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 12


Robertson Lee Johnson ’53

Published in the Apr.28, 2010, issue

Lee, whose forebears were timber titans, built his eminent reputation on public service in his native Portland, Ore., as a state representative, attorney general, and judge. He died of cardiovascular disease Nov. 15, 2009, at his Palm Springs, Calif., ranch.

A Lawrenceville graduate, his roommates included Bill Brewster, Hap Hackney, Skip Hargraves, Al Hoblitzel, Phil Hummer, Bill Kenny, and Liv Rodgers ’52. Although known to many as “Smiley,” his Cap and Gown section — according to Brewster, Hackney, and Kenny — fondly called him “Shmoo” for

the rotund, congenial Li’l Abner comic-strip character.

Equipped with a Stanford Law School degree, he began his government career, and the monikers kept coming. While attorney general, he tired of cheerfully being called “General” and jokingly suggested he be referred to as “Admiral.” After all, he had been a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy. So he became an unofficial admiral in the Oregon navy.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Dorothy, and son Theodore. Survivors of our jovial classmate include his wife, Eleanor; daughters Cynthia Haruyama ’82, Ruth Reiman, and Marie; son Charles L. ’83; and stepchildren Daniel Jr., Clay, Blake, Christopher, Betsy, and Reed Kingsley.

The Class of 1953

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