In Memory

Richard Johnson

Obituary for Dick Johnson

Richard “Dick” Melvin Johnson, 74, died peacefully in his sleep Monday, April 8, 2019 at his home in Ballwin.

Dick will be sadly missed by his wife of 35 years, Liz (Erickson); sons Jeff and Greg (Amy); grandchildren Ellie, William, Matthew and Lotte; brother Herb (Lois); extended family; and friends around the world.

A native of Rockford, Illinois, Dick graduated from Auburn High School in 1962. Following high school he attended Kalamazoo College, where he was a two sport varsity athlete in tennis (NCAA All-American, Singles and Doubles, 1964; Team Captain and MVP, 1964, 1965) and basketball (Team Captain and MVP, 1964). Dick graduated from Western Michigan University in 1967.

Following college Dick began a prolific career in tennis. His livelihood was instruction, which included stays in Rockford (Clock Tower Racquet Club); Bad Kreuznach, Germany (TC Blau-Weiss); Chicago (Lake Bluff Bath and Tennis Club); and 30 years as head tennis pro at St. Louis Country Club, the position from which he retired in 2014.

During his teaching career Dick also excelled competitively on the senior circuit, amassing 44 U.S. national titles – in singles and doubles, on all four surfaces, and in age groups from 35s to 70s. He savored travel, competing on six continents and representing the United States in international team competitions at the invitation of the USTA. Most recently, Dick won the 2015 ITF Super-Seniors World Individual 70s Championship in Umag, Croatia, and finished the year ranked ITF world number 1. Dick was excited to be “moving up” to 75s in 2019, and of late was rehabbing from hip replacement surgery in preparation for the USTA National 75s Hard Court Championships in May.

In the spare time he found in retirement, Dick took up a new racquet sport: pickleball. He won the 2018 Margaritaville USA Pickleball 70+ 4.5 National Championship in November 2018.

Dick has been inducted into the St. Louis Tennis Hall of Fame, the USTA Missouri Valley Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Kalamazoo College Athletic Hall of Fame.

Visitation will be Thursday, April 11, from 4-8 pm, at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Rd. Kirkwood, MO 63122

A memorial ceremony and celebration of Dick’s life is being hosted by his tennis friends on Saturday, May 4, from 5-9 pm, at Creve Coeur Racquet Club in St. Louis. All who knew Dick and his family are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dick can be made to the Triple A Youth Foundation, c/o Scott Hunt, 7700 Forsyth Blvd., Suite 1800, Clayton, MO 63105.


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04/18/19 09:43 AM #1    

Carol Busch (Telling)

Im saddened today to find the email regarding Dick Johnson’s passing.

I  will remember Dick as a patient, talented, and kind person - with a great smile, and an inspiration to two of my three daughters in their quest of tennis.

Carol Busch Telling 


04/19/19 01:08 PM #2    

Raymond LaForge

I'll always remember Dick as a gentle, congenial human being possessed with cat like reflexes and an indomitable competitive spirit. I can still picture him as the hub of Dolph Stanley's famous basketball pre-game warmup, spinning the ball on one finger and drop kicking to cutters running lay up lines ala the Harlem Globetrotters. Bet he's a champ somewhere in the heavens?

04/19/19 04:21 PM #3    

Dick Mc Faul

I enjoyed years ago and, after reading his recent history, Dick’s competitve nature.  As an avid racquetball and pickleball player, I understand that big smile holding his tennis racquet.  Dick’s untimely death reminds this cardiologist that even exercise can’t compete with nature’s complicated ways.  So....carpe diem!  

04/19/19 04:22 PM #4    

Dick Mc Faul

It’s a pickleball paddle, not a tennis racquet but still the same fun!

04/21/19 02:02 AM #5    

David W Manley

I also play pickleball, awesome sport for older men or women. I knew Dick quite well back at school  we were in gym class together and we teamed up together playing basketball. I tryed out for the basketball team but didn't get picked. Dick was one of the nicest guys I was friends with. We talked at the 50th reunion and got caught up with each other. I'm very sorry he has passed and feel for his family.

04/21/19 11:10 AM #6    

Nadia LaRocca (Kirgan)

My condolences to Dick's family  I remember him as a top athlete, a strong part of the student community and a friend to many.  I was fortunate to reconnect with Dick at the last class reunion.  I was totally amazed at the fact that 55 years had barely changed his appearance or physical fitness.  After reading his accomplishments during that time, I found him to be the same humble, soft spoken person he was in high school. Rest in peace, Dick.  You were taken too soon.

04/22/19 01:43 PM #7    

Donald Ralston

 Dick and I were teammates at Auburn. We recently “caught up” at our recent reunions and with emails. Obviously Dick was a great athlete. I was amazed to learn of his accomplishments in tennis. He was also a quality individual. I wish we could have spent more with each other at this stage of our lives. He was a real inspiration for me. I’m sorry for his family’s loss.



04/22/19 06:54 PM #8    

Peggy Cavitt (Showers)

Peg Cavitt Showers     All of us should want our sons and grandsons to possess the qualities that Dick exhibited throughout his life.  


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