Herb Johnson, retired secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, dies at 78

Managing Editor

Parkville, MO – Herbert “Herb” Johnson, retired secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, died suddenly on Oct. 18, 2021.

Johnson, 78, of Parkville, Mo., was a member of former Machinists Lodge 1650 in Kansas City and a member of Lodge 688 in St. Louis. He served as secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO from 1997 to 2013.

In an email announcing his death, Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel, Vice President Reginald Thomas and Secretary-Treasurer Merri Berry said:

“We are very sad to share the news that our beloved friend Herb Johnson passed away. Herb was a dedicated and courageous union leader whose personality and character represented the very best of the Labor Movement…. Herb was an extraordinary union leader whose wit and positivity helped successfully lobby for many years to pass pro-union legislation and stop bills like ‘right-to-work’ in the Missouri legislature. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this time. Rest in Power, Herb, we will miss you.”

Mike Louis, retired president of the Missouri AFL-CIO said: “Herb was a great trade unionist, a great lobbyist for the working class and most of all, a loyal friend to many. I had the honor of working the state Capitol with him as he was my mentor. He never gave up the fight to keep the playing field level for all Missouri working families. His fight and tenaciousness were an intricate part of the social fight on behalf of all workers. He will be missed.”

Brother Johnson was born Feb. 18, 1943 in Kansas City, Kan. to Leonard and Sylvia (Ward) Johnson, and lived the majority of his life in the Kansas City area, graduating from Washington High School in 1961.

A long-time Labor leader in Kansas City, Brother Johnson’s career with the Labor Movement began in 1960 when he became a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and continued through December 2012, when he officially retired as secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO. During his 48 years in the Labor Movement, Brother Johnson was a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the majority of that time was at TWA, where he worked out of the overhaul base for more than 34 years.

He held positions ranging from shop steward to president of  Lodge 1650, serving upwards of 4,600 members, to full-time organizer for the International Union.

During his time as secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, Brother Johnson devoted countless hours engaged in legislative action in Jefferson City, Mo. He lobbied elected officials, testified before committees and was appointed to numerous councils, boards and committees by multiple Missouri governors. His dedication to the Labor Movement was never-ending and will be missed but never forgotten.

An avid Kansas City Chiefs fan, Brother Johnson was proud to be a Chiefs season ticket holder for 50 years. In recent years, he enjoyed his family, working in his yard, feeding the birds daily, walking, and spending time in the sun.

Even in retirement, his dedication to working people never stopped. At the time of his death, he was vice president of the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans.

Brother Johnson married Roslyn Diane DeChicio on Aug. 20, 1984 in Platte County, Mo. In addition to Roslyn, his survivors include five children: David Johnson, of Riverside, Mo; JoAnn Rupp (Ronald), of Kansas City, Mo.; Angela Duggan (Russell), of Kearney, Mo.; Jill Johnson (Brad), of Kearney, Mo. and Melissa Cretsinger (Nathan), of Riverside, Mo.

He is also survived by his brother, Robert Johnson, of Tonganoxie, Kan; sisters, Katherine Stull and Debra Cordero, both of Kansas City, Kan; 12 grandchildren: Cindy (Duke), Brittney, Sarah, Andrew (Tearsa), Ashley, Abby, Kate, Sam, Caleb, Callie, Aaron and Anna; five great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.
Family and friends gathered to celebrate his life Oct.22, 2021, at the Meyers Northland Chapel in Parkville.

The family suggested memorial contributions to Children’s Mercy Hospital or the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans.

Memories of Herb and condolences may be shared at meyersfuneralchapel.com.

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