Former Iowa State Auditor Richard D. Johnson has died at age 87

Richard D. Johnson loyally served the citizens of Iowa.

Courtesy of Iowa Offiical Register

Richard D. Johnson loyally served the citizens of Iowa.

Richard Dean Johnson died after his 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s Thursday. 

Johnson served as Iowa State Auditor from 1979 until his retirement in 2003. He then continued to share his expertise with the financial boards of local companies, including Vision Bank of Iowa, PMMIC, and Lincolnway Energy. 

Throughout the years, Johnson was involved in leadership positions for the military, local government, business, church and the community. He was also a member of the Nebraska and Iowa National Guard, where he held the positions of armor officer, artillery unit and battalion commander, state finance disbursing officer and state director of selective service.

Johnson also served as City Clerk and Mayor for the town of Sheldahl from 1959 to 1975.

To honor his death, Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered that all flags in the state of Iowa be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset today. 

“We celebrate and honor the life of Richard Johnson and the dedicated service he provided our great state for over two decades,” Gov. Reynolds said, “He did everything in his power to assure Iowans their tax dollars would not be misspent, and he made our state better through his work.” 

She also spoke about the kind of man Johnson was, saying, “Mr. Johnson was a true family man and had a love for serving as the State Auditor.” 

Regardless of Gov. Reynolds’ kind words, it was clear he had a deep love for his family. Being one of six children, Johnson learned the value of hard work at a young age as he helped support his family by delivering newspapers, working in the newspaper office, then later at a dealership, hardware store and garage.

His love for his family didn’t end there. After marrying his wife, Marjorie, they went on to have four children- DeAnn, JoAnn, LeAnn, and David. 

He was always family-oriented. From attending his children and grandchildren’s sporting events and musical activities to involving them with his work in any way he could, he went out of his way to support his family because that’s the kind of man he was.

“He loved building things and making continual changes on his home and landscaping,” according to his obituary, “Fence posts and bricks were a favorite and seemed to be in constant movement around his yard. Whether with cars or home projects, he enjoyed the challenge of fixing and improving things.”

As a devoted Christian, he followed God’s leading and direction in all aspects of his life, which shone through his goals and decision-making. 

Many will remember him as an intelligent yet humble man.

He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; sisters, Lucille Bowman and Lila Leatherwood; children, DeAnn Thompson, JoAnn Leach, LeAnn Houlette and David Johnson; grandchildren, Kerrie Knudsen, Kristin Griffin, Kacie Thompson, Bethany Ogle, Melanie Vespestad, Kirk Leach, Ann Wheeler, Renee Houlette, Stephanie Houlette, Jeremy Cole and Christine Sims; and thirteen great-grandchildren. 

According to his obituary, memorial gifts may be given to Madrid Evangelical Free Church, Hidden acres Christian Center, Rotary Club of Des Moines Foundation, or The Family Leader. 

A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Madrid Evangelical Free Church.