Durrell Albin Johnson

After 94 years full of love, Durrell Albin Johnson passed away peacefully in his Orlando home on March 21, 2024.

Durrell was born in West Orange, New Jersey on August 19th, 1929 to proud Swedish parents Albin August Johnson and Lilly Johnson. He loved growing up on a chicken farm in New Jersey and his parents lovingly called him “Sonny.” Durrell graduated with honors from West Orange High School in 1947 where he could be seen tooling around in his beloved Hudson and much like his father, enjoyed nothing more than working with his hands on a carpentry project. Durrell went on to graduate from Newark College of Engineering.

Always one who lived by a creed of honor and integrity, Durrell enlisted in the Navy in 1953. He received a Bronze Star Medal for his heroism in Vietnam. Durrell had posts around the world but you could say his best posting was at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center where he met the love of his life, Barbara (VanHeirseele). Durrell and Barbara were married June 15, 1968 at the Chapel by the Lake. Their marriage blended two families where his son Jeffrey, now had brother Robin and sister RaeLynn to join in their adventures. After 22 years of service, Durrell retired as Commander and the family looked to the sunshine and no more snowy winters of central Florida. Durrell personally designed the blueprints for their forever Florida home. His design afforded him the best view of the lake from his favorite recliner.

Durrell didn’t stay out of public service for long. Upon moving to Orlando, Durrell went to work for Orange County’s Department of Public Works in 1978. There wasn’t a street in Orlando that Durrell couldn’t tell you the ins and outs of. He relished giving “better directions” on how to get around traffic snarls. He retired as chief staff civil engineer after 17 years.

Upon his retirement, Durrell looked to the seas again, booking a cruise to surprise his love, Barbara. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea of flying to Europe only to get on a big boat for more travel. But he was on to something. They went on to enjoy over 90 cruises with Durrell loving nothing more than seeing the sites from his balcony and enjoying dinner promptly at 6pm. Retirement also brought weekly trips to Orlando area pawn shops. Durrell could never resist a stop in to look for treasures and haggle. Up until a couple of years ago, he enjoyed a daily driving circuit that he said had the best product and prices on all groceries. It didn’t matter that it took multiple stops.

Known to his grandchildren Lacey, Cydney, Dylan, and D.J. as Poppa or Papa depending on who signed the card. The name Durrell means “strong” and son Jeffrey Durrell, granddaughter Lacey Durrell, grandson Durrell Austin aka “D.J”, and great grandson Harrison Durrell proudly carried the family name. He always loved sharing a birthday and cake with granddaughter Cydney. And much to his delight, grandson Dylan granted his 94th birthday wish of a homemade lobster roll. His great grandchildren Harrison and Hadley always brought an instant sparkle to his eye. Papa was the family patriarch and could always be counted on for sage advice on life’s conundrums.

Durrell is survived by many loving relatives including his wife of 55 years Barbara, sons Jeffrey and Robin Johnson, daughter-in-laws Linda and Laura Johnson, grandchildren Lacey (Michael) Heard, Cydney (Jarrett) Comer, Dylan Johnson, and D.J. Johnson, great grandchildren Harrison and Hadley Heard along with numerous other cherished family and friends. His “baby girl” RaeLynn Ward preceded him in death this past February.

Durrell’s memory will be honored on April 6, 2024 at the Carey Hand Colonial Funeral Home in Orlando, FL with a visitation at 9:00 a.m. and a funeral service at 10:00 a.m. Following this a full military graveside service will be conducted at Conway Cemetery at 11:30 a.m.

Durrell will always be remembered as an honorable man who never sought praise or the accolades that ultimately came his way. His family all takes comfort in his long life filled with decades of fond and loving memories.

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