Mark Alan Johnson

Mark Alan Johnson, 78, of Lawrence, KS, died surrounded by his loving family on October 30, 2023, at KU Medical Center. A Leukemia survivor, Mark spent his last few years fighting symptoms of Graft vs Host Disease.

Mark was born in Topeka, KS, on September 26th, 1945, to Lloyd Edward and Rose Marie (Nelson) Johnson. He graduated from Washburn Rural High School in 1963 and from Washburn University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Mark joined the Navy and became a Naval Reserve Lieutenant (O3). He piloted E-1B Tracers while serving aboard two aircraft carriers in Vietnam, the USS Bon Homme Richard/CVA-31 in 1970 and the USS Oriskany/CVA-34 in 1971. He especially loved night catapults and landings, even onto a pitching deck in bad weather. After a break from the Military, Mark joined the Army. He flew helicopters, fixed-wing aircrafts, and was a flight instructor as he rose through the ranks to Chief Warrant Officer 5 and Detachment Commander with the Kansas National Guard. Mark retired in 1999 and enjoyed his time as a stay-at-home dad and in a variety of part-time jobs.

Mark married the love of his life, Kristine Louise McIver, on November 1st, 1988. He passed two days before the couple’s 35th wedding anniversary. The two loved spending time together and were excellent travel companions. Mark’s sense of adventure was further expanded when he purchased a motorcycle after retirement and took many long, solo trips across America.

Mark was fortunate to have a “Second Birthday” on October 11, 2016. After a grim diagnosis of Stage 4 High Risk Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in 2015 and a few rounds of chemotherapy, Mark’s doctors and family decided the best course of action would be to accept a Stem Cell Transplant. Difficult months and years followed the transplant, but Mark was cured of Leukemia. Notably, in 2017, both of Mark’s children became matches for others needing life-saving stem cell transplants. The following years Mark was able to enjoy some of life’s best gifts – he attended his son and daughter-in-law’s wedding, saw his wife perform with the Lawrence Civic Choir at Carnegie Hall in NYC, officiated his daughter and son-in-law’s wedding, adopted two rescue dogs, and welcomed three grandchildren to the world.

Mark will always be remembered for his big heart, level-headedness, compassion, humor, and acceptance. Family and friends were able to share admirations and fond memories in Mark’s final days, which he and his immediate family cherished.

Mark was preceded in death by his parents Lloyd and Rose Johnson, his brother Stanton Lloyd Johnson, his parents-in-law Buford and Gertrude McIver, and his brother-in-law James Scott McIver.

Mark is survived by his wife Kristine, their two children, Chelsea (Stephen) Johnson Bagwell of Lawrence, KS, and Elliott (Kathryn) Johnson of Roeland Park, KS, and three grandchildren Zelie Johnson, Magdalene Johnson, and Mack Bagwell. Other survivors include his sister, Anita (Robert) Epps of Topeka, KS, his sisters-in-law Kathleen Blackburn of Lawrence, KS, Kathryn McIver of Fresno, CA, Kelie McIver of Los Angeles, CA, his brother-in-law Brian (Julie) McIver of Overland Park, KS, ten nieces and nephews, and fifteen great-nieces and nephews.

Mark’s “Final Flight” Celebration of Life will be held from 1:00 PM – 4:00PM, 1:30 Military Honors will perform, followed by a Memorial Service on Sunday, November 12, 2023, at Venue 1235, 1235 N. 3rd Street Lawrence, Kansas 66044.

Click Here To Donate to The Meredith A. Cowden Foundation to raise funds for GvHD research in Marks’ honor would be greatly appreciated.


  1. Katherine Dinsdale on November 2, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    Dear Kris and Chelsea,
    What a beautiful obituary. I sent it to Carolyn in Denver and she was sad, too, to hear the news. We both remarked what a lovely write-up this was of a wonderful, steadfast life. I am so thankful for the milestones and celebrations Mark witnessed. What more do we ask of life than the deep joy of loving relationships, family and adventures together? So many years of love! Bob and I wish you God’s deep peace and comfort and many sweet memories of your dear Mark.

  2. Clinton Goheen on November 2, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    Sorry for your loss. Served with Mark many years in the National Guard at Forbes Field in Topeka.

  3. Gerri dawson on November 2, 2023 at 5:10 pm

    Kris and family-I’m so sorry for your loss. I didn’t know mark well but I know he was such a nice man and I always enjoyed being around him. May you and your family find comfort in this time of need.

  4. Sheila Mullinix on November 2, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    Mark was a great inspirational person to me he always had something awesome to say about any one of us in the group he was such a help for me such good advice. He was a really important voice in our group we all have become so close and our hearts are broken but I know he is with our Lord such a good man I will miss him dearly!

  5. Mario and Ruthi Montecinos on November 2, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    We are so sad to lose such a thoughtful, loving person. I have known him for 63 years and I am
    so happy to call him my friend. My husband and I have enjoyed the times we have spent with him.

  6. Jane Royer on November 2, 2023 at 8:15 pm

    Dear Kris and family,
    I loved reading this beautiful tribute to Mark and thinking about what an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend he was to so many. He fought so hard for his precious life and he was rewarded by the additional time he was able to spend with those he loved. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you meet this loss together and continue to celebrate Mark’s humor, courage, and commitment to family. His life was a love adventure with all of you.

  7. Carmen and Michael Hanna on November 2, 2023 at 8:38 pm

    Dear Kris and Family: so sorry for your loss. our love and prayers are with you. May the Lord give you the strength during these difficult times.

  8. Carmen and Michael Hanna on November 2, 2023 at 8:43 pm

    Sorry about the mistake with question signs, do not know what happened

  9. Anna Apitz on November 2, 2023 at 10:23 pm

    We met Mark at Kris’ Seaman High school reunions. My husband, Ken was introduced to Mark and they spent the rest of the night talking. After that Ken wanted to make sure Mark was going to be at any subsequent reunions before he would commit to attending. Mark was just a genuinely good person who was very pleasant to meet and talk with. Love to all of you and hope that you can find peace in your memories.

  10. JUDITH WILSON on November 3, 2023 at 5:14 am

    May your hearts’ memory pockets wrap around you helping you find your peace as he has found his.

  11. COL (ret) Charles Rayl AVN on November 3, 2023 at 7:45 am

    Mark was a good man and a wonderful pilot. I was privileged to have served with him in the Kansas Army National Guard.

  12. Rita I McGrew on November 3, 2023 at 8:43 am

    Dear Kris , Elliott, and Chelsea, and family,

    John and I both send our deepest condolences to all of you… We will miss Mark so very much.

    What can I say about a man who was so dear to his family, and to his friends! It’s hard to put into words the importance of my friendship and love for Mark. I will always remember Mark as a deeply serious, yet also very funny friend! A great listener, committed father and husband, grandfather, brother and uncle…dog lover, too! This obituary photo is how I will always remember him, healthy, smiling, and loving life. He endured his grueling trials after his bone marrow transplant with a grace that comes from deep faith, and a wife that wins the prize for “Best Supporting Spouse” award. With love I say, not goodbye, but “so long dear friend.”

  13. Steve Menaugh on November 3, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    It was my pleasure to get to know Mark when my wife and I moved back to Lawrence in 2015 and became Mark & Kris’ close neighbors. Mark was an extraordinarily nice man and will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. Mark was one of the good guys!

  14. Nancy and Bob Horton on November 3, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    Bob and I are thinking of all the family and especially MARK.
    Wishing you peace as your hearts heal.
    With sympathy and love
    Nancy and Bob Horton

  15. Eugene Curtis on November 3, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    I was so sorry to hear of Mark’s loss. He and I played touch football together in college and then reunited at Scotts New Years party. What a pleasant surprise. He sounded like he had a full and satisfying life but knew it was his time and was prepared to go. You were blessed to have him for the time you did. May God bless and comfort in your loss. Gene Curtis

  16. Ed Lane on November 3, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    Dear Kris, Chelsea, and Elliot,
    I’m so terribly sorry for the loss of that wonderful man. I feel a bit cheated, only having known Mark for the last five years in KU Med’s chronic pain group. Those years were marked by Covid 19 and Mark’s health challenges with graft vs. host disease, but we did at least get out once to the Lawrence Arboretum. In the group I was awed by Mark’s groundedness, his wisdom, and especially his sensitivity to others’ feelings – he could see beyond the words to the pain and worry that gave rise to those words. I treasure my friendship with him, and judging from my own sadness, I know you must be feeling a huge grief at a life that was far too short, even at 78. Wishing you acceptance and peace.

  17. Julie Friedstrom on November 3, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    Kris, Elliott, And Chelsea,
    My heart aches for you.

  18. Kathy McKee on November 4, 2023 at 6:05 am

    Dear Kris & family, I am so very sorry to hear about Mark. May you find comfort in your beautiful memories and in the promise of eternal life. Love and prayers for you and your family.
    Kathy & Jeff McKee

  19. Linda K. Berry on November 4, 2023 at 11:25 am

    From Linda (Timothy) Berry
    To all Mark’s family,
    I did not know Mark, but my dearly departed husband Tim was a classmate of his. Knowing what a difficult time this is for you all, I pray that God will strengthen you and give you hope. He is united now with God, Jesus, and all of his loved ones who have gone before, and you will see him again. Peace to you.

  20. Jim and Jeanne Evers on November 4, 2023 at 6:30 pm

    We were so sorry to hear of Mark’s passing. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.
    Jim and Jeanne Evers

  21. Rex Quinn Campbell on November 4, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    My name is Rex Campbell
    Mark and I were employed at the General Foods pet facility in the 70’s. We were team leaders
    together. Mark was a few years older than me, but I had a few more years at the plant. I learned
    so much from Mark. He was a true friend. I haven’t seen him in many years, But I will remember
    him the rest of my life. He left a great impression on me. To the family—I am so sorry. Rex Campbell

  22. Steve Patterson on November 5, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    As you know, Mark and I served together for more than three years as E-1B pilots during the Viet Nam war. He was a superb professional and a joy to fly with. Still, my fondest memories are of my close friendship with MAJ, as we knew him, back ashore in San Diego. He was a brotherly presence in my home, loved especially by my 3yr old daughter Kris, with whom he watched Sesame Street and had remarkably meaningful conversations, punctuated by his distinctive laugh which always brought a smile to my face. His proudest possession was his bright orange Fiat convertible, and when on Sunday afternoons he arrived at our house for his weekly home-cooked meal, he would rev the engine, beep the horn, and bring that shy smile and wry sense of humor into our little family. He was loved then and he will always have a place in my heart. I am so grateful that he and I had some more time together over the past 20 years. My life is better for having him in it. Again, my condolences to Kris and the whole family.

  23. Jamie Hutchens on November 6, 2023 at 10:16 pm

    Such a loving tribute for such an amazing guy…will always treasure the memories of him and how he was such an admirable father/husband/grandfather. I love y’all so much.

  24. Vicki Coulter on November 7, 2023 at 9:27 am

    Dear Kris & family,
    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved husband and father, Mark.
    I remember first meeting that winning smile and laugh at a class reunion so many years ago. But what I really remember, Kris, was how happy you were! Especially after the children arrived.
    I hope your many years of happiness and memories bring you comfort and peace during these difficult days.
    Keeping you all close in my heart and prayers.

  25. Meg Braun on November 7, 2023 at 8:59 pm

    Kris, Elliott, And Chelsea,
    I remember when Mark and Chris were married. What a great couple! Mark was so proud of Kris and all her accomplishments. Then the kids came along, and he loved telling stories about Chelsea and Elliott. There are very few people in this world that could make me laugh for long periods of time and Mark was one of them. He will be missed, but the joy he brought to all of us will be long-lasting.

  26. Maria and Steve Ilardi on November 10, 2023 at 7:46 am

    Dear Kris,
    I am so sorry to learn about Mark. May God give you comfort in this sad time.

  27. Delbert Jacobia on November 10, 2023 at 8:30 am

    I was so sorry to hear about Mark. I was so grateful to have served with him in the Kansas Army National Guard.

  28. Daniel Devlin on November 10, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    Devlin Family
    So sorry for your loss. Mark and your family have been great neighbors. You were there for me when I needed support. I know Mark put up his best fight for his family. He will be missed.
    Daniel, Oliver and Laura

  29. Darrell and Gaylene Dibbern on November 10, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    Dearest Kris,
    Our family is so very sorry for your loss. Every time we were around Mark, he made us feel so comfortable and seemed genuinely interested in our conversations, even though we didn’t know him well. We have always been so happy that you were blessed to have such a special life together. Please know we are sending heartfelt thoughts and support to you and your family as you begin this journey of finding peace and acceptance. You have always held a very special place in our hearts.

  30. Kimberly Hall on November 11, 2023 at 11:00 am

    Mark was a wonderful person. He was strong leader in our group at KU Medical Center.
    He was always thoughtful and kind to everyone. He genuinely was compassionate and concerned about others. He made his love for his family and humanity known in every area of his life. He will be missed but the seeds he planted will blossom forever.

  31. Lee, Tandy, Liesel, and Hannah Reussner on November 12, 2023 at 9:17 am

    Dear Kris, Chelsea, and Elliott, and family,

    We have such fond memories from my time working with Mark at St. Margaret’s when he was on the A/V team. His ready smile and easy-going demeanor always helped put me at ease, and his competency in many areas was on point!
    Even though the past few years were difficult, healthwise, we pray that strong are the memories that you’ll hold of his entire time on this earth. And strong are the arms of our Lord Who is holding you each during this time and in the days ahead. Hugs from our family to yours –

  32. Sara and Chuck Holley on November 12, 2023 at 10:24 am

    Kris, Chelsea, Elliott and Mark’s family:

    Sara and I feel blessed to have had Mark as part of our lives. I have never met anyone who impressed me more. His quiet manner, his voice, smile and his visits always made me feel special. I tell people all the time how fortunate I am because I married Sara and met very special people like Mark and his family. A person could see and feel the love he had for his family when he talked about them. Mark was a perfect example of what a person should be and a life to be lived. Ours prayers are with you and family.

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