Ignacio resident Mark David Johnson died from complications of hypertension Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at his home. He was 59.
Mr. Johnson was born to Olen and Camille Johnson on July 8, 1952, in West Palm Beach, Fla. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Hollywood, Fla., where he was a first-team center for the Broward County all-star football team.
After attending Olivette College in Michigan, Mr. Johnson fulfilled a dream by backpacking through India and the Himalayas to Nepal. His family said it was his love of mountains that brought him to Durango after his return to the U.S.
“His decision to work as an elk hunting guide was a natural fit for his ‘mountain man’ demeanor,” his family said.
Mr. Johnson later worked as a chef while earning his bachelor’s degree in education from Fort Lewis College.
“Following his deep-seated love and admiration of all Native American peoples and beliefs, he became an educator, counselor and coach on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Rough Rock, Ariz., as well as a counselor at the Southern Ute Peaceful Spirit (Alcohol Treatment Center),” his family said.
In his later years, while pursuing his master’s degree in education and counseling with the University of Phoenix, Mr. Johnson was a delivery driver for DHL Shipping.
“During his years in Durango, Mark was recognized for his larger-than-life personality and kind and gentle spirit,” his family said. “Mark leaves behind many dear friends who became his extended family for the past 25-plus years.”
Mr. Johnson is survived by his sister, Lenore Coffey, of North Carolina; one niece; and numerous extended family members.
Cremation has occurred. A private service will be held.