Family mourns slain music professor, dad

By Kimberly Miller

Arizona Daily Wildcat

When Roy Johnson's life was taken last week, colleague and friend Adela Allen said, Tucson mourned the loss of a compassionate and caring man.

But he was not the only victim. With his death, his widow, Stardust Johnson said his family and the world were "robbed of something very special" the chance to enjoy his music and the fruits of his labor as an organ professor at the University of Arizona Music School.

"Even though my father was tragically taken from us, his spirit will live on eternally in the music that he made and the organs that Eric makes," said Johnson's daughter, Jennifer.

Eric Johnson, Roy's son, builds customized organs.

Johnson, 58, had been a professor at the UA for 29 years. During that time, colleagues said, he inspired many students and faculty through his teaching and music.

"I have never in my life met a humanist of his caliber," said Allen, associate dean of the graduate college. "He has inspired so many. He always cared for the individual. In this busy world, that is sometimes hard to do."

While a tape of Roy's organ music played in the living room, Stardust Johnson recalled recently finding Roy's book of practice music for his students in some of his things she was sorting through. She said Johnson would want to tell his students to keep practicing.

"He loved his students dearly, and they know that," she said. "He would encourage them to keep making music."

In memory of Johnson, Stardust and other family members have established the Roy A. Johnson Memorial Fund to support completion of the donated $300,000 Isabelle Harris organ in the university's Holsclaw Hall and scholarships for UA music students.

"People have been calling us from all over the country wondering if they could do anything for us," said Stardust Johnson. "That is why we decided to set up this fund."

Donations may be sent to Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2450 E. Fort Lowell Road, Tucson 85719.

Stardust and Roy met in 1958 at Englewood Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois, where mid

she sang in the choir and he was the newly hired organist.

She said it was love at first sight.

"Roy and I were married 35 years and we were best friends," Stardust Johnson said. "I can't tell you what a kind beautiful and loving spirit he was. We were inextricably tied together."

Stardust Johnson took time yesterday at a press conference set up at her Sam Hughes neighborhood home to thank friends, police, volunteers and the news media.

"I am deeply touched by the great effort made by the police, the volunteers who searched, and the media for its sensitive and restrained coverage of this horrific event," she said.

"My greatest fear was that Roy wouldn't be found. And although it was painful beyond description I was so grateful that he was found."

Johnson's body was discovered by a Department of Public Safety helicopter crew Saturday morning in a wash north of West Ajo Way and off of South Sandario Road, about five miles west of Gates Pass Road.

Police said Johnson had been beaten to death.

Johnson was reported missing early Wednesday morning after he failed to return from a concert he was performing in Tuesday night at a Green Valley church. A multi-agency search was initiated Wednesday night when Johnson's car was found in a desert area between Pima Mines Road and Campus Road.

Police arrested Beau J. Greene on Friday for misdemeanor warrants after witnesses identified him as a man seen driving Johnson's car. Greene was charged with first-degree murder Saturday after Johnson's body was found.

Greene is being held at the Pima County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Police believe robbery was the motive because Greene allegedly used Johnson's credit cards to buy things at various Tucson and Green Valley stores.

Investigators think Johnson was kidnapped when he stopped to help a woman waving down cars on Interstate 19 about 20 minutes north of Green Valley.

Johnson is survived by his wife Stardust, an associate director of curriculum at the UA, a son Eric, of Missouri, and a daughter, Jennifer, of Phoenix.

Services for Johnson will be held this Saturday, March 11, at 11:00 a.m. in the Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd.

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