Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.
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.