Remembering Warren Johansson
By: Wayne Corwin
1921 - 2014
I was honored to talk at Warren Johansson's Memorial Service. I came dressed the way Warren would have remembered me (mining helmet, rock hammer on my belt, torn jeans and work boots). I've probably seen a different side of Warren than most of the people at his service. I spent many years with Warren enjoying his, and my, passion for collecting.
I first met Warren about 1980, at the Mountain Farms Mall Flea Market in Hadley, Ma. He was selling minerals and antiques, I was selling minerals and wire wrapped jewelry. We became great friends. We often traded minerals, and most days he taught me about the minerals and geology of the Connecticut Valley.
Warren got me to join the CVMC of Springfield, of which he was one of the early members and Vice President at least at one point. He showed me many new, at least to me, collecting spots all over New England and New York.
We went camping/collecting in Maine and New Hampshire several times. We always found nice minerals.
Warren was a really down to earth type person. He loved sharing his knowledge with anyone. He spent much of his life teaching students, kids and people geology and mineralogy and shared his interest in all things. Warren was an amazing person who was still amazed with the world. Many times while we were collecting or sitting around a campfire, he would tell me stories of how he and Dott traveled around the country, especially during WWII.
They did not have much money, so they often hitchhiked around the West, mostly collecting where he could. Then hitchhiking back with his minerals, looking for the first post office he could find so he could mail the minerals home.
He was in the service and Dott had to follow him from place to place, making do with limited money and rationing cards, but always trying to find a way to go collecting.
Warren often talked about how he loved collecting with his dad and family.
In 1991(Warren was 70 years old) I was on a trip with Warren and the Athol Bird and Nature Club. Warren was leading a field trip to Royalston, Ma.
We were looking for aquamarine gemstones, feldspar and garnet crystals. Warren had, in his collection, some of the best aquamarine and golden beryl ever found at this location, some of which he and his dad collected in the 1930's. On this day Warren came upon a large boulder, about the size of a V.W. bug. He noticed a number of crystals showing on the top of the rock. Warren gathered everybody around the boulder to show them what to be looking for. He then climbed up on the top of the rock and started swinging a 12 lb. Sledgehammer, knocking off chunks of the crystal bearing rock. Warren was letting the people pick through the pieces he had already knocked off, while he kept on swinging the sledgehammer, knocking off more pieces for the people. He saw one more hunk of rock with good crystals that he thought should be knocked off, so he took a GOOD swing and missed!! A sort of golf-club type swing, but with the missed swing, he lost his balance. He let the sledge go flying, body all wound up, he then ended up doing a full BACK FLIP IN MID AIR and landed on both feet beside the boulder.
No one said anything at first. Warren just stood there, then he finally said WHOAAA…..
I asked him if he was OK? He said he was fine. Everybody's eyes were still as big as silver dollars and with their jaws dropped, when Warren started walking around the boulder sizing it up for some more demolition.
It was a very good collecting trip for everybody.
Warren was my
Friend, Mentor and was like a Second Father to me.
I really respected him for his knowledge.
I learned a lot from him and valued the many times I spent with him.
Warren was a verrrry special human being.
Warren and I were kind of kindred spirits. I can't remember a time that I visited him without the two of us going out collecting, even if it was just for an hour or so in Petersham. He always wanted to go check out some new construction site with me that he had found out about in the newspaper or from a friend. Some places we would collect until dusk, then go get a meal some place, sit around and talk minerals, take our time eating, and waiting for it to get good and dark out. Then we would go back to the same place and use my black-light looking for fluorescent minerals, often until 12 or 1 A.M.
Warren donated many of his minerals to schools and our club. He held many one day classes for kids like he did here on the Petersham town common during the Petersham Old Home Days.
Many a person got their start learning about rocks from Warren.
I cannot imagine how many of his students, from his many years of teaching at U.Mass Amherst, and the Greenfield Community College went on to a life's work in geology or mineralogy jobs, Thousands I Bet…..
Warren's Passion Was Infectious!!
Warren at the 2014 CVMC Mineral Show