Rev. Birger T. Johnson

SbirgerCARBOROUGH - Reverend Birger T. Johnson, 88, of Rhode Island Avenue, South Portland, at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough fell asleep on April 14, 2015, and is awaiting the return of our Brother and Lord Jesus Christ.

Born in 1927, the son of Uno and Irene Eriksson Johnson, Birger grew up in Brooklyn, NY and Montclair, NJ.

He was a graduate of Colgate University and Union Theological Seminary.

He began his ministry at Union Congregational Church of upper Montclair, NJ, in 1952. Moving to Maine in 1955, he pastored at the First Congregational Church in Saco. From there he was invited to Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland. During this period, Rev. Johnson helped found the Shalome House, a halfway house devoted to the counseling and support of needy individuals.

He was a retired chaplain at the Maine Youth Center. Of note, he managed a gift giving program through churches to ensure Christmas gifts for center residents, and took the boys sailing, where they learned many of life's lessons on board his 22' boat the Abishag.

He last pastored at the Highland Lake Congregational Church in Westbrook. He was a member of the 117th state legislature and served a term in the state senate.

He loved sports. He was co-captain of the Montclair New Jersey High School football team, winners of the 1944 State Championship. He also ran high school and collegiate track, winning medals at Madison Square Garden.

From 1970-1980, he was the Portland handball champion, using skills honed as a youngster in Brooklyn, NY.

He was a lifelong sailor. His last boat, an old Scandinavian design from his father's province in Finland, was the prettiest wooden boat in Casco Bay.
Survived by his wife, Linda B. Johnson of South Portland; stepchildren, Rear Admiral Mark Whitney, Donna L. Whitney; his first wife, Carolyn Farrington of Green Valley, Ariz.; sons, Matthew and Ken; grandchildren, Clair and Noah; and two brothers, Martin and Torsten.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, April 25, 2015, at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland, with refreshments following at the Elizabeth Hobbs Hospitality Center.

Interment will be at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in South Portland.