Longtime Chicago TV News Anchor Dick Johnson Dies At 66 – Dick Johnson, longtime Chicago morning news co-anchor and reporter for NBC owned television station WMAQ-TV in Chicago, has died Tuesday, the NBC station said in an afternoon broadcast.
Longtime Chicago TV News Anchor Dick Johnson Dies At 66 | Cause Of Death:
Dick Johnson, a Chicago television news anchor and reporter for 38 years, died Tuesday in northern Michigan, where he had been on medical disability for a respiratory ailment, pulmonary fibrosis, since early March when the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.
Dick Johnson’s death was not related to COVID-19, station officials said.
Johnson died on June 9, 2020, following days of respiratory complications, non-Covid related. He was being treated at a northern Michigan hospital at the time of his death.
“He had every intention of returning to work,” WMAQ-Ch. 5 co-anchor Marion Brooks said. “Dick loved his job. He loved telling stories. He loved his co-workers. And most of all, he loved his family.”
“He always wanted to be part of the big story,” Frank Whittaker, the station manager and vice president of news, said. “He was an old-school newsman. He loved the chase. He loved hunting down exclusives. He loved to write — he was an incredibly gifted writer. And he could do that on deadline, which in television was very appreciated.”
Dick Johnson was taking time off due to his respiratory condition, Frank Whittaker said, but he was itching to get back to the slew of big stories building in Chicago right now. When he was on medical leave, Johnson was still passing on tips, Whittaker added.
“He had a hard time breaking away from news,” Frank Whittaker said.
Dick Johnson will also be remembered as a dear friend to many in the newsroom, Whittaker said.
“I can’t tell you how many people just this afternoon have said how Dick was the first one to welcome them to NBC 5 news when they first started,” Frank Whittaker said. “He was proud to work here, and he wanted to make people feel welcome on the team.”
NBC 5 Anchor Dick Johnson, ‘Old-school Newsman,’ Died From Complications Related To A Respiratory Condition:
Carol Marin, political editor for NBC 5 and a correspondent for WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight,” said on Twitter that NBC5’s Dick Johnson “was the best kind of newsman. Smart, thorough, nimble when deadlines were crashing around him. No cliches. Just facts, fairness, and great writing. And he was funny! What a loss to all who knew him. But especially to his loving family.”
Before coming to WMAQ-TV in 2002, Dick Johnson worked for two decades at WLS-Ch. 7. He has won numerous prestigious awards, including the DuPont-Columbia Award (the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize) and the Emmy Award.
Johnson was the producer for the summer play productions put on by the Community House in Hinsdale, Illinois. In 2006, he produced Oliver!, and one year later, in the summer of 2007, he produced and performed as Franklin D. Roosevelt in Annie.
Dick Johnson, who has also appeared on NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” the movie “Barbershop 2” and the 2009 film “Chicago Overcoat,” also loved the arts and performed a solo in a satirical review about Hinsdale, a few months ago.
On March 19, Dick Johnson posted an explanation on Facebook for being off the air and in northern Michigan, a region he loved: “My apologies for disappearing from NBC Chicago so suddenly. Like so many, I had no other choice,” he said. “The Coronavirus, my age and a respiratory issue prompted my doctors to send me packing. So here we are, settled in ‘up north’ and riding this out as safely as possible. I’m sure you are too. All the best.”
Johnson is survived by his wife Lauren, his three children and his two grandchildren.