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Norman S. Johnson, 92; Head of L.A. County Parks Helped Preserve Open Space in San Gabriel Valley

June 29, 2005|From a Times Staff Writer

Norman S. Johnson, former director of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation who sought to add public parks to suburban Los Angeles, has died. He was 92.

Johnson died Saturday in Pasadena of natural causes, two days before his 93rd birthday.

During his tenure as parks chief in the 1950s and '60s, he campaigned for additional tax funds to provide regional parks throughout the county.

Nationally recognized for his work in open-space development, Johnson shared a Cornelius Pugsley National Award with beautification champion Lady Bird Johnson and conservationist David Rockefeller.

In the 1960s, Johnson worked to develop regional parks in the San Gabriel Valley. Among them are what is now Schabarum Regional County Park in the Rowland Heights area, the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale and what is now Frank G. Bonelli Park in San Dimas.

The county Board of Supervisors recently named the Arcadia/Santa Anita Park Aquatic Center after Johnson.

After his retirement, the former parks chief served more than 20 years on the investment board of the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Fund and on the board of the Retired Employees of Los Angeles County.

Born June 27, 1912, in Los Angeles, he was educated in public administration at USC and served in the Army Air Forces.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and his son, Steven.

At his request, no services are planned.

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