Family Login:

Thomas A. Johnson, Sr.

Obituary for Thomas A. Johnson, Sr.

December 2, 1943 - May 1, 2017
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania | Age 73

Beloved Husband, Loving Father, Grandfather, Brother and Uncle


Thomas Alan Johnson, Sr., age 73, died on Monday, May 1, 2017 at The Fair Acres Geriatric Center. He quietly concluded his decade long battle with Alzheimer's Disease surrounded by many family members, friends, and some special staff members from the 1st floor of Building 8. Tom was one of five brothers born to Henry W. Johnson and Jane E. Johnson (nee Logan) on December 2, 1943. As a child, he lived with his family in Collingdale before the move to a bigger house in East Lansdowne in 1955. His parents and brother Wayne Johnson have passed on but he is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Ruth E. Johnson (nee Murray), his sons Thomas Alan Johnson, Jr. (Janice), James William Johnson (Michelle), brothers Henry "Hank" W. Johnson, Jr. (Linda), Stephen W. Johnson (Margaret), and Gerald L. Johnson (Bernadette). He is additionally survived by his grandchildren Thomas Alan Johnson, 3rd, Bridget Marie Johnson, Kyle James Johnson, Carly Ann Johnson, and Jacob William Johnson, along with many nieces and nephews.

He was a 1961 Graduate of the former Lansdowne-Aldan High School and soon after he followed the path of his father into the plumbing trade. From 1962 to 1967 he completed the journeyman's program offered by the Philadelphia Suburban Plumbing Apprentice School and earned his Master Plumber's license in 1969. He first worked at Speers Plumbing and Heating before joining his father at Henry W. Johnson Plumbing and Heating in 1967. In 1976, following the sudden passing of his father, Tom assumed control of the business for the next 30 years. Johnson Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning continued to serve eastern Delaware County until his illness forced its closure.

In addition to his passion for the family business, Tom cared about education, health and safety issues. He was a lifelong learner in his profession and joined the Philadelphia-Suburban Plumbing Apprentice Council in 1977. He taught 1st year plumbing students until 1991 and remained on the board until 2002 for a total of 25 years' service. In support of the Health Department, he served 10 years as the Plumbing Inspector for the Borough of East Lansdowne during the 1990s. In the mid-1990s, he was moved to action by the story of 12-year-old Polly Klaas who was the victim of an abduction and murder at the hands of a stranger. For many years, enlarged "milk carton" style posters of missing children could be found on the compartment doors of all Johnson Plumbing trucks.

Tom had many professional affiliations. He worked his way up to the President's chair of both the Philadelphia Suburban (1995) and Pennsylvania Associations of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors (2000). In 1996, he worked with the Delaware County Municipalities Plumbing Council to assist with the development of a county-wide certification program. In 1997, he testified before a sub-committee of the Pennsylvania Assembly in support of professional standards for plumbing. In 1998, he was named Contractor of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association.

Tom and Ruth were partners in life. Tom got to experience the thrill of courting a girl that he picked up and dropped off at a cemetery as Ruth was the daughter of a caretaker. They started their family while living in Upper Darby before moving into the home that Tom grew up in during the summer of 1977. Over time, Ruth became more involved in the business and they became a team both day and night. When Tom began to serve his various associations in elected offices, it often gave them a chance to travel and enjoy the company of great friends.

Tom loved to fish and some of his greatest moments came on the Delaware Bay, in his own small fishing boat, hauling in flounder and anything else that could be found on the end of a fish hook. He even owned a small vacation home in North Cape May that became the location of so many family memories. Tom and the boys were technically "lost at sea" on one particular fishing trip during what could be called the original "perfect storm".

What started as a perfect day changed rapidly when unexpected storms developed over one of the fishing spots located where the Atlantic Ocean met the Delaware Bay. Before they could get back to the dock, the steering cable broke and the engine quit. The tide took them more than 20 nautical miles before they were rescued. Not all the memories were such dramatic adventures but they all shared the fact that they were associated with the simple pleasures in life.

Before becoming a responsible father, Tom was the proud owner of a fully dressed 1961 Harley-Davidson Duo-glide motorcycle. In their younger days, Ruth and Tom could be found riding around town skillfully avoiding the detection of Ruth's mom. Ruth helped Tom to decide that it was best to part ways with the motorcycle when the boys came, but not before Tom passed the passion on to his son James, who continues to share his enthusiasm for muscle cars and Harleys to this day.

Tom's funeral will be held at The Donohue Funeral Home located at West Chester Pike and N. Lynn Blvd. in Upper Darby. The viewing is scheduled for Sunday evening, May 7, 2017 from 6:00-8:00 PM and Monday morning, May 8, 2017 from 10:00 to 11:15 AM. A brief service will follow at 11:30 AM.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Tom's name would be appreciated to either the Alzheimer's Association or the Polly Klaas Foundation

Recommended Local Florist

Suggested Memorial Donations

Message from the Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time.
Please enhance this tribute to Tom by adding your memories and photos.

Arrangements By

Donohue Funeral Homes, Inc.

8401 W Chester Pike
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Map  | Profile

View Phone Number
Email Us