Transform Rockford

Condolences to the family of Harlan Johnson

Harlan Johnson died Feb. 25. Visitation was March 5. He was 82.

Harlan and I had known each other for years. He frequently submitted letters and guest columns when I was opinion editor of the Rockford Register Star. He and I would invariably show up at the same community events. 

     Harlan was passionate about striving for diversity, equity and fairness in our community, nation and world. He was a member of Eliminate Racism 815 and other organizations devoted toward ensuring all Rockfordians had equal opportunities. He was a true community advocate.

I had never attended a funeral service where so many friends and family wanted to express their love and appreciation for a person. The Wednesday service was truly special, and I regret I had to leave early. Harlan had a positive impact on many lives. The Register Star’s Chris Green was there. Read his story here.

     Ironically, a day before he died, he sent an email requesting we get together and discuss my role at Transform Rockford and how we could move the community forward. I would have enjoyed that conversation.

     Harlan wrote a column in 2018 that explained Transform Rockford.

     “The truth is that TR is an inspiration and a phenomenon that facilitates. It’s a catalyst, not an organization that does stuff on the ground. …

     “We all need to be able to say “I transform Rockford” and mean it, including you, dear reader.”

     I’ve written many times before I was involved with Transform Rockford and now that I’m executive director: Rockford can’t transform without you.

     Harlan recognized that and I hope the people of Rockford recognize it as well.

     Rest in peace, Harlan. 

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