Tim Ramsay
Marshall Johnson
Sep 11, 1987

'Grand' Sigma Chi adviser is mourned Died in plane crash; was returning from national workshop By CATHRYN S. RETZLAFF The Arizona Republic Marshall Johnson grew up near the University of Arizona campus, looking up to the Sigma Chi fraternity members that he met through his father, a university vice president and Sigma Chi alumnus. In 1978, Johnson was president of the Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of Tennessee and in 1986 . became the adviser to the Sigma Chi chapter at Arizona State University. Johnson, returning from a national Sigma Chi leadership workshop, died Aug. 16 on Northwest Airlines Flight 255 when it crashed near Detroit, killing 156 people. Johnson's death sent Sigma Chi members across the country into mourning. More than 200 members of the fraternity attended Johnson's funeral in Phoenix and laid white roses on his casket as a way of saying goodbye to a man who "gave everything" to Sigma Chi. ; "He was a grand Sigma Chi, that's all I can say," said Mike Draklich, treasurer of the ASU Sigma Chi chapter. "He gave everything to Sigma Chi, and we did not take that for granted." ;"He just inspired us to help our chapter grow," said Shawn Bella-mak, pledge trainer for the ASU Sigma Chi chapter. Draklich, Bellamak and three other ASU Sigma Chi members attended the workshop with Johnson and originally were scheduled to fly home with him on that fateful flight. But at the last minute, the five students exchanged their tickets for cheaper ones on an American Airlines flight. Draklich said finding another adviser to fill Johnson's shoes will be difficult. "He was a super guy," he said. "There are very few people who are into it as much as he was. It was a lifelong commitment for him, and that's what he was trying to get across to us." Marvin "Swede" Johnson, Marshall's father and Sigma Chi's "grand consul," or national leader, said he and his wife, Stella, have received letters expressing similar sentiments from Sigma Chi undergraduates. ."You cannot believe the outpouring we have received from all over the country," Swede Johnson said. "Marshall really encouraged them to strive for new heights and to look for ways to be of service." Draklich said it was apparent to mQst who attended the August leadership workshop in London, Ontario, that Marshall Johnson was following in the footsteps of his father, who has held national fraternity leadership positions for the past two decades. "That's what gets me," Draklich said. "He was following his dad all the way." Swede Johnson is the vice president for public relations for the Adolf Coors Co. in Golden, Colo. He said his son grew up seeing him participate in Sigma Chi activities at the UofA and on a national level. In 1968, Swede Johnson said, Marshall attended a similar leadership workshop with him at the University of Tennessee in Knox-ville and his son decided he would attend college there. "That shows you how strong the fraternity is in our lives," he said. Mike Ivens is a Phoenix attorney who was Marshall Johnson's roommate at the Sigma Chi house in Knoxville and in Phoenix until Johnson married Carolyn Van Valor eight months ago. "It was clear to me he was going to be involved in Sigma Chi the rest of his life," Ivens said. "He was a real protege of his father," added Michael Pryor, who attended a stockbroker-training program with Marshall Johnson in 1984 and later worked with him at R.L. Kotrozo Inc., a stock-brokerage firm in Phoenix. "He was up at 5:00, at the office by 6:00, and he seemed to have a boundless energy," Ivens said of the 31-year-old Johnson. "He was lots of fun, very gregarious, and he was the best friend I could have hoped to have." Pryor said, "He was the type of guy who had something going with everybody. He loved to eat at Fina Cocina downtown. His lunch would get cold while he'd talk to the guys back in the kitchen." Ray Kotrozo, who hired Johnson two years ago, said, "He was a very-high-energy, winning guy. Marshall was very giving and seemed to have time for everything. "He had time for work, his wife, Sigma Chi and his friends. It (his death) was so sudden, there was no time to say goodbye. I don't think it's going to hit us for awhile." Swede Johnson, contacted Sept. 1 at his office in Colorado, pointed out that Sigma Chi was not his son's only interest. He said his son was the captain of the Catalina High School football team in Tucson and was proud of his "roots" as a seventh-generation Arizonan. "His mother's maiden name is Stella Pacheco, and her roots go back to before the Gadsden Purchase," Swede Johnson said. "Marshall's great-grandfather built some of Tucson's first roads." Swede Johnson said his son had just married Van Valor, a sorority sister of Marshall's sister, Lynn, and was settling in as a stock broker. "He had just begun to turn his career around and develop a client base," he said. "July had been his best business month, and his outlook was, 'The sky is the limit.' In all aspects, he was building a wonderful life." Pryor said money did not motivate his co-worker. "He would labor over whether he was doing the right thing by the client," he said. Ray Kotrozo agreed, saying, "He was destined to be a star here. His career had just begun to jell, and he had just married a woman he had wanted to marry for a long time. It cuts the heart right out of you."
Clipping location on Arizona Republic page 105

Arizona Republic
Phoenix, Arizona
11 Sep 1987, Fri Page 105

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