Colleagues and leaders remember his professionalism and kind, Christian demeanor.
William “Bill” G. Johnsson, editor of Adventist Review magazine from 1982 to 2006 and founding editor of Adventist World magazine in 2005 and 2006, died in Loma Linda, California, United States, March 11, 2023. He was 88.
Former colleagues and employees remembered Johnsson as a kind, committed, and thoughtful leader who didn’t hesitate to reach out to others to strengthen not only the church’s flagship publication but also the church as a whole.
“The grace Bill Johnsson taught in his lectures and his books became the graciousness with which he led editorial teams and motivated colleagues,” Bill Knott, who followed Johnsson as executive editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World from 2007 to 2022, said. “The essential kindness of the man was matched with a keen intellect and a prolific pen.” Knott added that Johnsson “was trusted by leaders and readers around the world because of his consistent witness to the gospel of Jesus and his deep loyalty to the church he loved.”
Former Adventist Review associate editor Roy Adams acknowledged Johnsson’s scholarship, which, he said, combined with an appealing demeanor. Johnsson was Adams’s New Testament professor at Andrews University and one of the readers on his PhD dissertation committee. Years later, Johnsson supported bringing Adams on as associate editor of the magazine. “He made coming to our weekly backbreaking work at the office a joy,” Adams said. “He was not only a scholar and a gentleman, but also a professional and an authentic Christian.”
Johnsson’s love for the Seventh-day Adventist Church was something that former Adventist Review assistant editor Steve Chavez also noticed and valued. “In the more than 25 years that William Johnsson edited the Adventist Review, his editorials and articles revealed his deep love for the Adventist Church. He was aware of its flaws, but his focus was always positive, always pastoral,” Chavez said.
Chavez also highlighted Johnsson’s work of building bridges with other faiths. “He participated in church-sponsored interfaith dialogues with Lutherans, Presbyterians, Mennonites, and others,” Chavez said. “After he retired as editor of the Review, he was asked to serve as assistant to the General Conference president for interfaith relations, which brought him into contact with Islamic leaders in Jordan and Australia. Johnsson’s principled, balanced, and inclusive ministry will be missed.”
Several other leaders and former employees wrote to Adventist Review to share laudatory remarks about Johnsson as a professional and human being.
“I appreciated his leadership, wisdom, insightful writing, humor, and kindness,” Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division communication director, said. Maran shared how Johnsson brought her on board at Adventist Review when she was “young and full of ideas, not always good ones.” He “provided both guidance and empowerment. He lived God’s grace in word and action and will be missed,” Maran said.
Adult Bible Study Guides editor Clifford Goldstein agreed. “From the day I got to the General Conference in 1984, Bill Johnsson was like a father to me,” Goldstein wrote. “And that relationship, through ups and downs, never faltered over the decades. He will be missed.”
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson extended his condolences and sympathy to Johnsson’s family, including his wife, Noelene, and adult children, on Johnsson’s death. In a statement shared by ANN, he wrote, “We look forward to that wonderful day when ‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ ” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).”
A memorial service is planned for March 25 at 5:00 p.m. at the Crosswalk Seventh-day Adventist Church in Redlands, California. An obituary is also available.
This article was updated on March 15, 2023.