Last night I and the SF community at large lost a terrific and very tall writer with whom I collaborated upon occasion, Bill Johnson. Bill wrote a lot of stories, which he sold mostly to Analog; but some years back I convinced him to submit one instead to Asimov’s Magazine and it won him a Hugo Award. When his name was announced at the awards banquet, nobody was more amazed than Bill. He was self-effacing (no mean feat when you’re six foot seven), unpretentious, and probably the smartest guy in the room all the time. We were roommates in college, students together in a class led by Joe Haldeman & Larry Martin, and both accepted that same year into the Clarion SF Writers Workshop (possibly the only time that three members of a class taught by one of the writers teaching at Clarion that year made the cut into the program). People tend to bond at Clarions; we already had that bond between us but we added to the list other students from that year, including Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Crais, Lois Metzger, and Michael Armstrong. The only thing I’ll add is, there wasn’t a ceiling tile that was safe from Bill in that dormitory…
Bill was nearly unflappable. Which isn’t true of me, so he worked that for all the laughs he could get. He was a very quietly hilarious guy. But he also suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome, which I understand plagues tall people like Bill. When we were in college he confessed that it probably meant he would have a short life, and he wasn’t sure he would get to see his (hypothetical at that point) kids grow up. Fortunately, he outlived the prognosis, though I suspect he had more stents in him than any other human on the planet.
There are too many stories to recount here. It’s enough perhaps to say that he met in college and married the love of his life, Gretchen, and had great kids, who he got to watch grow up.
Rest in peace my old friend–