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					             Memorial to William Hilton Johnson
                        1935–1997
                               ALLAN F. SCHNEIDER
    Department of Geology, University of Wisconsin—Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin 53141
                                     ARDITH K. HANSEL
                   Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign, Illinois 61820

William Hilton Johnson passed away on November 30,
1997, following a seven-month battle with cancer. He
died at his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he
and his wife Joyce had lived since 1996, following his
retirement from the University of Illinois in 1995. He was
62 years old.
      Known to his many friends, colleagues, and students
simply as “Hilt,” Johnson was one of the most highly
respected and best known Quaternary geologists in the
country. His studies of Pleistocene stratigraphy and sedi-
mentology, glacial and periglacial geology, and geomor-
phology of Illinois were regarded as the finest examples of
thorough investigation and objective interpretation.
      Hilt Johnson was born on February 14, 1935, in Indi-
anapolis, Indiana, to William and Mary Roy Johnson. He
was raised on the family farm in Grant County and graduated from Fairmount High School in
Fairmount, Indiana, in 1952. He then attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. There he
was undoubtedly influenced in his choice of career by Ansel Gooding and Jim Thorp. He
received an A.B. degree in 1956.
      At Earlham, Johnson participated in football, basketball, and track, and served as captain of
the varsity basketball team. He was also active in student government and was elected class
president in his senior year. While at Earlham, Hilt met his future wife, Joyce Webster. They
were married in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, on December 29, 1956. From 1956 to 1958, Hilt
served in the U.S. Army at Fort McClellan, Alabama.
      Upon his discharge, Johnson enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Illinois. He
received an M.S. degree in 1961 and a Ph.D. in 1962, both in geology, under the direction of
George W. White. His doctoral dissertation was on the stratigraphy and petrography of Illinoian
and Kansan drift in central Illinois. Central Illinois was the type area of the Illinoian drift, and
Hilt’s dissertation, which was published in 1964 as an Illinois State Geological Survey circular,
revealed that petrographically distinct tills from two glacial lobes were deposited during the
Kansan glaciation, and tills of two events were deposited during the Illinoian glaciation.
      As a graduate student, Hilt served as a teaching assistant in the Department of Geology,
and upon receipt of his Ph.D., he joined the faculty ranks and served successively as an instruc-
tor, assistant professor, and associate professor. In 1987 he was promoted to full professor. He
served as both associate head (1991–1993) and acting head (1993–1994) of the department.
Upon his retirement in August 1995, Johnson was made a professor emeritus.
      During the 1960s and 1970s, Hilt taught field geology at the University of Illinois summer
field camp in the Big Horn Mountains. For several years, he served as director of the camp

                              Me
Geological Society of America Memorials, v. 30, December 1999                                    97
98                         THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

(1964–1968, 1976–1979). In the early 1990s he taught at the summer field camp at Park City,
Utah.
      William Hilton Johnson was a dedicated teacher of both undergraduate and graduate stu-
dents. He especially enjoyed teaching a popular course for nonmajors on the geology of national
parks and monuments. He endeared himself to many of his graduate students, for he taught them
the fundamentals of how to be a scientist. For his field project T. J. Kemmis recalled, “we
learned what it meant, what it takes, to describe, to interpret, to correlate, and to synthesize in an
area of complex multiple glaciation. . . . But there was more to Hilt’s instruction than just that.
Back in the classroom, Hilt didn’t just lecture on glacial processes, we had a forum, a discussion
on the factors that were involved and what was both known and unknown. It was a challenging
and exciting time.”
      In addition to his position with the university, Johnson was also affiliated with the Illinois
State Geological Survey (ISGS), beginning during his graduate student days when he was hired
during the summers (1959–1962) to map and do research on the glacial geology of central Illi-
nois. He continued as an ISGS affiliate after he earned his Ph.D. and began to teach at the Uni-
versity of Illinois.
      Hilt was well known to many of the ISGS staff. He was an integral part of the Quaternary
research program and participated regularly in Quaternary committee meetings, conducted
research on glacial and periglacial geology in Illinois, supervised student research theses, helped
organize and lead Quaternary field trips, and was coauthor of ISGS publications and journal
articles with many ISGS staff. Johnson was employed by the ISGS to conduct Quaternary
research in Illinois during the summers of 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1980, and he worked
half-time during an academic year sabbatical in 1970–1971. Hilt was much respected among the
Quaternary staff at the ISGS, and at the time of his retirement from the University of Illinois
Department of Geology in 1995, he was presented with an ISGS Lifetime Achievement Award
for his contributions to knowledge of the Quaternary geology of Illinois.
      Johnson devoted nearly four decades to studying the glacial and periglacial geology of Illi-
nois. Central Illinois was the focus of much of his research, from his Ph.D. thesis and early
papers on till stratigraphy, to his research documenting evidence of short-lived permafrost con-
ditions during the last glacial maximum, to his synthesis of the late Wisconsin landscape, sedi-
ment sequences, and ice-sheet dynamics. Although many find the flat terrain of central Illinois
uninspiring, Hilt effectively used the area as his teaching laboratory, and in his quiet, yet enthu-
siastic way, he motivated others to appreciate its uniqueness and subtleties.
      Hilt Johnson was an active participant in the Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene, seldom
missing the annual spring field excursion. He was the principal organizer and leader of the 1972
field conference on the Pleistocene stratigraphy of east-central Illinois and assisted with several
other meetings of the group. He also contributed his expertise to field trips of other organiza-
tions, including the North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America and the Ameri-
can Quaternary Association.
      Many of Johnson’s colleagues recall the second stop on the 1979 Friends of the Pleistocene
trip. Two till sections on opposite sides of a narrow stream were scheduled for examination, but
a heavy spring rain had swollen the creek to an unusual depth. After the group had inspected the
first exposure, Hilt requested one of the bus drivers to park the bus so as to straddle the creek.
After some hesitation, the driver obliged; we climbed through the rear (emergency) door, walked
through the bus, and exited the front door. All but the most adventuresome members of the
group remained reasonably dry.
      Others will recall the 1991 Friends trip, for which Hilt handled some of the logistical
arrangements. On an otherwise serene Sunday morning Hilt patiently absorbed 20 minutes of
verbal abuse from an irate woman in her church attire who claimed (correctly) that the group of
                         MEMORIAL TO WILLIAM HILTON JOHNSON                                     99

about 100 persons and 60 vehicles was trespassing on adjacent property without permission.
Hilt volunteered to remain behind until the more reserved owner arrived, in order that the group
might proceed to the next stop without serious interruption.
      Hilt Johnson was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, having joined in 1961.
He was a member of the American Quaternary Association, the National Association of Geo-
science Teachers, and Sigma Xi. He served on the panel of the Quaternary Geology and Geo-
morphology Division of GSA (1974–1976, 1987–1989) and on the Council of the American
Quaternary Association (1992–1994).
      During much of Hilt’s tenure at Illinois, the Johnsons lived in Mahomet, about 10 miles
northwest of Champaign. There Hilt was an active leader in community affairs, including ser-
vice on the Board of Trustees of the Sangamon Valley Public Water District for 15 years. In Las
Cruces he organized the Canyon Association in the Las Alamedas neighborhood.
      The Johnsons were members of the McKinley Foundation Presbyterian Church in Urbana,
Illinois. In Las Cruces they attended the Unitarian Universalist Church, where a memorial ser-
vice for Hilt was held on December 3, 1997. A memorial service was also held on February 12,
1998, on the University of Illinois campus, where tributes were delivered by many of his friends,
colleagues, and former students.
      William Hilton Johnson is survived by his devoted wife, Joyce, of Las Cruces, New Mex-
ico; two sons, Eric Mark Johnson and Scott Webster Johnson, both of Los Altos, California; a
daughter, Jennifer Johnson Krueger of Cincinnati, Ohio; and three granddaughters.
      All who knew Hilt Johnson will remember him as a person of high principles and friendly
disposition—a sincere friend and a true gentleman. His life and career serve as a model of
integrity worthy of the highest admiration.


              SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF W. H. JOHNSON
1964 Stratigraphy and petrography of Illinoian and Kansan drift in central Illinois: Illinois State
      Geological Survey Circular 378, 38 p.
1965, 1966 Geology laboratory manual: Champaign, Illinois, Stipes Publishing Co., 143 p.
1966 (and Cropp, F. W.) Physical geology laboratory manual: Champaign, Illinois, Stipes Pub-
      lishing Co., 146 p.
1971 Old glacial drift near Danville, Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Circular 457,
      16 p.
——-(and Glass, H. D., Gross, D. L., and Moran, S. R.) Till stratigraphy of the Danville region,
      east-central Illinois, in Goldthwait, R. P., ed., Till, a symposium: Columbus, Ohio State
      University Press, p. 184–216.
——-(with Leonard, A. B., and Frye, J. C.) Illinoian and Kansan molluscan faunas of Illinois:
      Illinois State Geological Survey Circular 461, 24 p.
1972 (and Follmer, L. R., Gross, D. L., and Jacobs, A. M.) Pleistocene stratigraphy of east-cen-
      tral Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Guidebook Series 9, 97 p.
1973 (with Vonderhaar, S. P.) Mean magnetic susceptibility: A useful parameter for stratigraphic
      studies of glacial till: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 43, p. 1148–1151.
1976 Quaternary stratigraphy in Illinois: Status and current problems, in Mahaney, W. C., ed.,
      Quaternary stratigraphy of North America: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Dowden, Hutchin-
      son and Ross, p. 161–196.
1980 Quaternary geology of east-central Illinois and west-central Indiana: Great Lakes Section,
      Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Field Trip Guidebook, p. 45–58.
1981 (with Wickham, S. S.) The Tiskilwa Till, a regional view of its origin and depositional pro-
      cesses: Annals of Glaciology, v. 2, p. 176–182.
100                       THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

1982 Interrelationships among geomorphic interpretations of the stratigraphic record, process
      geomorphology and geomorphic models, in Thom, C. E., ed., Space and time in geomor-
      phology: London, George Allen and Unwin, p. 219–241.
1985 (and Hansel, A. K., Socha, B. J., Follmer, L. R., and Masters, J. M.) Depositional environ-
      ments and correlation problems of the Wedron Formation (Wisconsinan), northeastern Illi-
      nois: Illinois State Geological Survey Guidebook 16, 91 p.
1986 Stratigraphy and correlation of the glacial deposits of the Lake Michigan Lobe prior to
      14,000 B.P., in Sibrava, V., Bowen, D. Q., and Richmond, G. M., eds., Quaternary glacia-
      tions in the Northern Hemisphere: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 5, p. 17–22.
—— (and Moore, D. W., and McKay, E. D.) Provenance of late Wisconsinan (Woodfordian) till
      and origin of Decatur sublobe, east-central Illinois: Geological Society of America Bul-
      letin, v. 97, p. 1098–1105.
1987 (with Hansel, A. K., compilers) Quaternary records of northeastern Illinois and northwest-
      ern Indiana: Field Guide, 9th Biennial Meeting, American Quaternary Association, Uni-
      versity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 106 p.
—— (and Hansel, A. K., and Follmer, L. R.) Wedron Section, Wedron, Illinois—Concepts of
      Woodfordian glaciation in Illinois, in Biggs, D. L., ed., North-Central Section of the Geo-
      logical Society of America: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Decade of
      North American Geology, Centennial Field Guide, v. 3, p. 213–217.
—— (with Hansel, A. K.) Ice marginal sedimentation in a late Wisconsinan end moraine com-
      plex, northeastern Illinois, in Van der Meer, J. J. M., ed., Tills and glaciotectonics: Rotter-
      dam, Netherlands, A. A. Balkema, p. 97–104.
—— (with Hansel, A. K., and Socha, B. J.) Sedimentological characteristics and genesis of
      basal tills at Wedron, Illinois, in Kajansuu, R., and Saarnisto, M., eds., INQUA till sympo-
      sium, Finland, 1985: Geological Survey of Finland Special Paper 3, p. 11–21.
1988 (with Wickham, S. S., and Glass, H. D.) Regional geology of the Tiskilwa Till Member,
      northeastern Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Circular 543, 35 p.
1989 (and Follmer, L. R.) Source and origin of Roxana Silt and middle Wisconsinan midconti-
      nent glacial activity: Quaternary Research, v. 31, p. 319–331.
—— (and Hansel, A. K.) Age, stratigraphic position, and significance of the Lemont drift,
      northeastern Illinois: Journal of Geology, v. 97, p. 301–318.
—— (with Clark, P. U.) Modeling the influence of till rheology on the flow and profile of the
      Lake Michigan Lobe, southern Laurentide Ice Sheet, U.S.A.: Discussion: Journal of
      Glaciology, v. 35, p. 284–285.
1990 Ice-wedge casts and relict patterned ground in central Illinois and their environmental sig-
      nificance: Quaternary Research, v. 33, p. 51–72.
—— (and Hansel, A. K.) Multiple Wisconsinan glacigenic sequences at Wedron, Illinois: Jour-
      nal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 60, p. 26–41.
1991 Quaternary Period and Pleistocene Epoch: Encyclopedia Britannica (15th Edition), v. 19,
      p. 858–867.
—— (with Kempton, J. P., Heigold, P. D., and Cartwright, K.) Mahomet bedrock valley in east-
      central Illinois: Topography, glacial drift stratigraphy, and hydrogeology, in Melhorn, W.
      N., and Kempton, J. P., eds., Geology and hydrogeology of the Teays and Mahomet
      bedrock valleys: Geological Society of America Special Paper 258, p. 91–124.
—— (with Hajic, E. R., and Follmer, L. R.) Quaternary deposits and landforms, confluence
      region of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers, Missouri and Illinois: Terraces
      and terrace problems: Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene, 38th, Guidebook, 106 p.
1992 (with Hansel, A. K.) Fluctuations of the Lake Michigan Lobe during the Late Wisconsin
      subepisode: Geological Survey of Sweden Research Papers, SGU series Ca 8l, p.133–144.
                        MEMORIAL TO WILLIAM HILTON JOHNSON                                   101

1996 (with Hansel, A. K.) Wedron and Mason Groups: Lithostratigraphic reclassification of
      deposits of the Wisconsin Episode, Lake Michigan Lobe area: Illinois State Geological
      Survey Bulletin 104, 116 p.
1997 (with Hansel, A. K., Bettis, A. E., III, Karrow, P. F., Larson, G. L., Lowell, T. V., and
      Schneider, A. F.) Late Quaternary temporal and event classification, Great Lakes region,
      North America: Quaternary Research, v. 47, p. 1–12.
1999 (and Hansel, A. K.) Wisconsin Episode glacial landscape of central Illinois: A product of
      subglacial deformation processes?, in Mickelson, D. M., and Attig, J. W., eds., Glacial
      processes past and present: Geological Society of America Special Paper 337, p. 121–136.




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