Richard Fourness Johnston

Services for Richard F. Johnston, 89, Lawrence, will be 2 pm Monday November 24, 2014, at Neuvant House of Lawrence.

Richard F. Johnston passed away at Neuvant House on November 15, 2014, with his daughter and caring staff by his side. Richard was born in Oakland, CA in 1925. Early in life, he developed an interest in zoology, with a particular fascination in birds. After serving in the Army in WWII and recovering from injuries sustained in the European theater, he attended UC Berkeley, where he met his future bride, Lora. Their three children Regan, Janet and Cassandra were all born in California while Richard finished his education earning a PhD in biology.

Richard came to Lawrence in 1958 to join the Zoology Department at the University of Kansas and to become curator of the Natural History Museum. During his long career at KU, he devoted his energies to conducting research and mentoring many graduate students. His research focused on studying the adaptation of the English House Sparrow to different environments. These studies involved collecting many specimens from Europe and North America and obtaining physical measurements for analysis. Due to advances in genetic sequencing, these specimens are still valuable to scientists today. Observing the pigeons roosting on the ledge outside his office window led Richard in another direction. His work with pigeons culminated in the publication by Oxford University Press in 1995 of the book Feral Pigeons, co-authored with Marian Janiga.

Richard derived great pleasure from roaming the woods looking for mushrooms, tending to his small vineyard, making wine, and above all, enjoying his wife Lora’s wonderful cooking. Richard is survived by his daughters Regan, Janet, Cassie, and two grandsons Miles, and Winn McEnery.

He was very fond of the many feline and canine companions he had throughout his life. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Humane Society of Lawrence Kansas.