American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Joseph E. Johnson, 1906-1990

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991



Joseph E. Johnson, President Emeritus of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a former State Department official and special United Nations representative, died on October 24 in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was bom in Longdale, Virginia and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. After receiving his A.B., A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard, he taught for two years at Bowdoin College before joining the faculty at Williams College, where he became a full professor of history in 1947. During World War II, Dr. Johnson entered the State Department, where he became chief of the International Affairs Division. In 1944, he attended Dunbarton Oaks conference, where the United Nations structure was decided on and the San Francisco conference where the United Nations actually came into being. He was often a special representative to that body.

From 1950 to 1971, he was the president of the Carnegie Foundation. His career was dedicated to the peaceful solution of international problems through cooperation. For example, in the early 1960s, he worked on the Palestinian refugee problem as an United Nations envoy.

Dr. Johnson was a member of the American Alpine Club for 65 years, having joined in 1925. He was also a member of the Alpine Club of London. His climbing companions included Henry S. Hall Jr. and Sir Douglas Busk. His son, William R.A. Johnson, was kind enough to send us the following account of his mountain climbing. “My father took up climbing in the 1920s while a student at the University of Grenoble. He climbed both in the Alps and the Canadian Rockies. He was a serious and devoted mountaineer and I believe he undertook some very challenging expeditions. [These included the first traverse of Edith Cavell, the first ascents of Oldhorn Erebus, Keystone, Paragon and Casemate, the first complete ascent of Redoubt, all in the Canadian Rockies, and ascents in the Alps of such notable routes as Zinal Rothorn by the Rothorngrat and Nadelgrat traverse and the Zmutt Ridge of the Matterhorn.] After a long illness in the late 1920s, my father married, went to graduate school and never did any more serious climbing, but he never lost his love of the mountains. I know that if he brought to the mountains the same energy and competence that he demonstrated in his professional career, there were few mountains he could not climb.”

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