In Memory

Bert Johnson

(Scroll to bottom of this webpage for information on Bert's memorial service)

Click HERE to read Bert's tribute from The Portolan issue 107.

Bert contributed over 60 articles to The Portolan, iniatied and grew our now well-known Facebook page, and always provided good counsel and historical perspective in Board meetings.

Alas, I believe he was too modest to reflect on his importance to the WMS and say to himself, "Wow. I have done far more than my share, and I know my work is appreciated by all."  Let me say it for him. 

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11/18/19 12:47 PM #1    

Mark Tully

I'm so sorry to hear of Bert's passing.  He corralled me into WMS with the Facebook Group and his overreaching interest in promoting WMS.  I feel our loss.  RIP.

11/18/19 01:28 PM #2    

Rick Laprairie

So sorry about Bert's passing.  I always looked forward to his peices. His communications always had a very personal touch and while I never did get to meet him, I felt I knew him.  For members at a distance, like myself, he brought a sense of familiarity and intimacy to our group.  He will be missed.

Rick Laprairie

11/18/19 03:40 PM #3    

Leigh Lockwood

American University classmate Charles Bush writes:

".....It is evident that we all saw the same Bert Johnson during the 55 year span of his college years through volunteer assignments at the Washington Map Society. The same conclusion was reached by his cohorts at OSI and military contractor assignments. A special person we all were blessed to know."

In another email, Mr. Bush stated, "After I informed classmates of his death I heard back from many. I will inform American University today, it was on my mind. Let's go with my observation already provided. I wanted to link Bert's associations over 50 years and suggest that he remained consistent as high quality individual who humbly impressed all with whom he came in contact."

Charles Bush

American University Class of 1968 

11/19/19 10:55 AM #4    

Eliane Dotson

No matter where we were, I aways felt like Bert was likely the smartest person in the room. He seemed to know something about every subject that came up and always had an interesting story or fact to share. He was kind, generous with his time and skills, and had a great sense of humor. I enjoyed working with him and getting to know him on a personal level. He was a tremendous person, and I feel lucky to have known him.  He is already greatly missed.

11/19/19 11:22 AM #5    

Leigh Lockwood

Following is a preliminary obituary written by and for fellow members of the Washington Map Society.  A memorial service may take place on March 21, 2020.  We will keep you informed here.

Hubert O. (BERT) Johnson (1946-2019)

Hubert O. (Bert) Johnson, a long-time member and staunch leader and supporter of the Washington Map Society, died in early November in Alexandria, Virginia, after a heart attack. He was 73.  A graduate of American University and the University of Utah, Bert served 25 years in the US Air Force from 1969-1994, and later worked as a contractor on US government projects and as a volunteer in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.   In 1992 he joined the Washington Map Society and served it in many ways.  He was a Director on the Society’s Board many times between 1993 and 2019.  He was Chair of the Ristow Prize competition from 1995-1996 and 2003-2005.  He was Vice President from 1996-1997, then President from 1997-1998.  He was Membership Chair from 1999-2001. Most recently he served as Vice President again from May 2018-August 2019.  Bert served as the WMS Facebook page administrator and, along with Cassandra Farrell, helped raise the WMS Facebook membership from 300 members to more than 1,000 members worldwide.  Besides these many roles, Bert was a prolific writer for the Society’s journal, The Portolan – his book reviews and thoughtful articles appeared in 66 issues of the journal, more than any other author.  Bert missed nearly no WMS meeting.

Bert especially enjoyed traveling to international cartographic conferences, especially the International Conference on the History of Cartography – he attended nine consecutive meetings of that event from 1999-2015.  His prime cartographic interest was the mapping of the Mediterranean region, especially, as he noted: “Greece & Aegean; Persia/Iran; Caspian & Gulf; Tripoli; Libya; Schleswig / Joseph Roux; FC de Krafft; Adam Olearius; Rhigas Pheraios; compass/wind roses; maps on wine labels.”

Bert was a personal friend to all he met and respected by those who only knew him through his reputation and his writings.

Bert is survived by his wife Mary Lee.  Funeral arrangements are pending, and no death notice/obituary has appeared as of November 19.  Once these details are known, they will be provided to the membership along with the address to which to send condolences.

11/20/19 10:42 AM #6    

Eliane Dotson

From Magola & John English:

"My wife and I are very sorry to hear of Bert's passing. This is sad news to us due to him being such a great friend over the years and very nice person! We met Bert at the Texas Map Society years ago!! He got us to join the Washington Map Society after our trip with Texas Map Society to DC. Every time we visited Washington DC  - we would get together and catch up on Maps, the Society, personal items plus share dinners at Ladini Brothers Restaurant in Alexandria. When we planned a trip to Boston – he got us hooked up with Ron Grims with Boston Library to see maps and the library. Another nice person. He also got us into the Vault @ Library of Congress and I was able to take my stepson there to see all of the Virginia Smith Maps plus more. He also made such a difference in the Society and the Portolan Magazine. Always looked forward to his articles on the International Map Events and trips.


Bert was always a friendly face, warm smile and interesting man of character plus great knowledge on maps and traveling.  He will be missed by us in Texas!!!"

01/17/20 05:07 PM #7    

Leigh Lockwood

(The following tribure was written by a colleague of Bert's)

Hubert Otis Johnson III

Colonel, USAF (Ret.)


Bert, as he was known to family, colleagues, and his many friends, was born in Harris County, Texas, on 16 October 1946 to Brigadier General Hubert O. “Hub” Johnson Jr., USAF (Ret.), and Maudie Suggs Johnson. Bert graduated from Annandale High School; American University (BA, International Relations); and the University of Utah (MA, Middle Eastern Studies). He was commissioned into the USAF through ROTC and served from September 1969 to October 1994, spending his entire career as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). He held field, staff, and command positions with AFOSI, serving overseas tours in Iran, England, Greece, and Spain. Following his retirement from the USAF, Bert was a contractor with counterintelligence roles at the Department of Energy, AFOSI, and the National Reconnaissance Office. He worked at the NRO until shortly before his death on 7 November 2019 at Mount Vernon Hospital after a heart attack. Among Bert’s many interests were maps, particularly maps of the Mediterranean region and maps on wine labels Bert was a long-time, active member of the Washington Map Society, served as its President (1997-1998), and was a frequent contributor to the Society’s journal, The Portolan. Bert was predeceased by his parents and younger brother, Joe Carroll Johnson. Bert is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Mary Lee Kochensparger Johnson of Alexandria.

01/18/20 12:13 PM #8    

Walter Wilson

Bert was one of the first to greet and make me feel welcome to the WMS. Learning that I was from Texas, he introduced me to the Texas Map Society. He, of course, was also a member of TMS. When I moved to Texas, he would frequently travel to our meetings here and, no surprise, he was a friend to all he met. He will be greatly missed, but his example of loving kindness will continue in all of those who knew him..

02/24/20 04:12 PM #9    

Leigh Lockwood


His brother-in-law, Jon Kochensparger, has advised the burial for Bert Johnson will be at the St. Paul Episcopal Church Cemetery, 601 Hamilton Avenue, Alexandria, VA at 0900 am on Saturday 21 March 2020, followed that day by a memorial service  at St Paul Episcopal Church, 228 South  Pitt Street, Alexandria at 10:00 AM and a reception in the Church Hall after the service. 

The burial is going to be prior to the service because of the distance between the Church and the cemetery and the logic of having the reception after the service.


02/25/20 04:00 PM #10    

John English

Bert was a true freind and a person that always made you feel welcome all the time !! Knew his maps well!! My wife and I had a few dinners with him when we were in DC to go to the Washington Map Society or see our son that lived there for 5 years.  Also met him through the Texas Map Society and would call to say  "He was in Tejas!!""when in tome for a TMS meeting at UTA. Will truely miss his freindship and knowledge of being a true gentlement. John & Magola English - Houston Texas

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