Steven Lee Johnson

April 16, 1938 - January 2, 2022

Steven Lee Johnson, beloved husband, father, and Paw Paw left this world while surrounded by family on January 2, 2022, in Kingwood, Texas.

The oldest of four children, Steve was born on April 16, 1938, in Sutton, West Virginia to Lee Barrett and Ruth Johnson. When he was 12, his family relocated to Pecos, Texas, where Steve spent his formative years as a member of the football team, Futures Farmers of America, competing in slide-rule competitions, and losing his teeth trying to take on a tree while on a bicycle. He went on to study Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, graduating as part of the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 1961. While at Texas A&M, Steve was a proud member of Squadron 12 and spent a year on the wrestling team.

While a senior at Texas A&M (after he and some buddies convinced a classmate to set them up on dates), he asked Sam Houston State freshman Sally Burton to write to him, as his “mailbox had cobwebs.” This began a courtship that resulted in a 58-year marriage. After informing Steve that she would not marry until she finished college, Steve organized Sally’s class schedule so that she could complete her degree in three years, which she did by taking inordinately heavy class loads. Steve and Sally were married on June 8, 1963, in Brookshire, Texas, the week after Sally graduated from Sam Houston.

Steve had an impactful 50-year career as a civil engineer and hydrologist, becoming one of the Houston area’s pre-eminent experts on drainage and flooding. After college, he went to work for the U.S. Geological Survey, where he was instrumental in the installation and management of flood gaging stations throughout the areas. While with the USGS, he co-authored a study that substantially elevated the understanding of the impact of land development on flood flows. In 1977, the USGS relocated Steve to Miami, Florida, where he directed local USGS operations.

Eventually, the pull of Texas was too great, and in 1979 Steve returned to the Houston area, joining a local civil engineering firm that eventually became part of LJA Engineering. As Chief Hydrologist at LJA, Steve took on instrumental roles as a consultant for the Harris County Flood Control District, City of Houston, TxDOT, and many others. Additionally, he had instrumental roles in the development of The Woodlands, including the design of the Lake Woodlands reservoir. At 65, Steve retired. The next Monday, he went back to work as a consultant….in the same office doing essentially the same work. Eleven years later, he “officially retired,” but continued to consult on various work and community projects, including for Kingwood Service Association. Steve was known for his expertise, but also for his integrity and commitment to investing in the careers of others, having a large and lasting impact on many young engineers.

When it came to hobbies and interests, Steve had eclectic tastes. While other retired men might enjoy golfing or fishing, Steve chose to rebuild antique engines and to tinker as an amateur blacksmith. While he and Sally took plenty of cruises and international vacations, he also loved roughing it on numerous gold-mining trips. (He never found much gold, but it wasn’t from lack of trying.)  A jack-of-all-trades, Steve could figure out how to do just about anything.

Anybody who knew Steve knew of his faith in God and his quiet commitment to be Jesus’ hands and feet on this earth. Without much fanfare or desire for attention or accolades, he tirelessly poured his life into meeting the needs of others: teaching children in Sunday school, serving in the church nursery, caring for a long list of widows, washing dishes on Wednesday nights – the list is endless. In his retirement, he poured his energy into The Gideons, where he served as an Area Director and provided leadership to hundreds of volunteers in South Texas as they worked to get Bibles into the hands of a world in need of Jesus.

Far and away, Steve’s greatest legacy is his family. He is survived by Sally, his wife of 58 years; sons Burton (wife Pat); and Barrett (wife Jenifer); seven grandchildren, Lindsey Maiocco (Christian), Landon Johnson (Keala), Emilie Bauer (Lucas), Drew Johnson, Bailee Johnson, Blake Johnson, and Maddie Kate Johnson; seven great-grandchildren (Caleb, Carly, Katie Grace, Nalani, Olina, Rose, and Lucy). He is also survived by three siblings, Phil Johnson (Mary), Barbara Whisenhunt (Sam), and Cindy Frakes (Bernie). There is a long list of family members whose lives have been directly impacted by Steve’s life, love, and influence. While not overtly emotional, he was consistently steady in demonstrating Christ-like living and faithful service. He was a tremendous example to all of what it looks like to live a rich life that is focused on building the Kingdom of God.

There will be a reception and viewing on Thursday night, January 6 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at Darst Funeral Home at 796 Russell Palmer Rd., Kingwood, TX 77339. The family will have a brief private interment on Friday. Then, all are invited to a Celebration of Life service on Saturday, January 8, at 11:00 AM at Kingwood First Baptist Church at 3500 Woodland Hills Dr., Kingwood, TX 77339. A reception will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, please honor Steve’s life and legacy with a donation in his honor to The Gideons at (Use the GideonCard option to leave a message for the family.)

Service Information

There will be a reception and viewing on Thursday night, January 6 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at Darst Funeral Home at 796 Russell Palmer Rd., Kingwood, TX 77339. The family will have a brief private interment on Friday. Then, all are invited to a Celebration of Life service on Saturday, January 8, at 11:00 AM at Kingwood First Baptist Church at 3500 Woodland Hills Dr., Kingwood, TX 77339. A reception will follow at the church.

39 replies on “Steven Lee Johnson”

Lana McCormick Watson says:

My memories of Steve are from a little girl’s memory at West Park Baptist Church in Pecos Texas. The whole family was special. All the siblings were older than me, but I was allowed to “be” with them and not ignored. It’s so good to hear that Steve’s faith and service to the Lord was a tangible thing in his life. My condolences to all of his family. I know he will be greatly missed until we are reunited at the throne of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God Bless.

Vickie Ballew says:

That’s the most beautiful tribute I’ve ever seen….and every bit true. I loved him very much and have so many fond memories.
You will be missed so very much…but what a blessing for those that knew you to know that you are in the arms of our Lord and Savior. Sally… Judy , Ronnie and I are praying for you and your family. Love you.

John Clark says:

Sally, I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss. Steve will be greatly missed. He was a man of honor and integrity. I knew Steve for nearly forty years and don’t think he ever changed in all those years. He was steadfast and true. A great role model. God Bless!

Patricia Gauden says:

Sally, so sorry to hear about Steve and your sudden loss. My heart goes out to you and also my prayers.
Steve was always so nice to everyone here at work, he will be greatly missed.

George Culver says:

Every time I worked with Steve, every time I talked with Steve, every time I passed by Steve, and every time Steve was in the room I smiled. You could not help but smile when Steve was with you.

Jim Moehlman says:

Sally, Cathy and I are very sorry for your loss. Steve was a great engineer, and more importantly, he was a great man. He had a unique personality and was an honest straightforward man. He will be greatly missed by all of us.
God bless you and your family.

Greg Patch says:

Sally , I know you know how much Steve meant to us in the Gideon Camp. It is with great saddest that we have lost him , but great rewards awaited him for his service and love of the Lord and you were just as as much of a part of that success. I wish blessings and comfort to you during this time of sorrow. We are all here to support you with anything you need.

Bill Park says:

I certainly remember Steve from the First Baptist church at Pecos. He was older than me but was always friendly and attentive. Steve was a Senior at A&M when I was a Freshman . He kind of took care of me as a fish when ever we ran into each other. I’ll always remember him for his kindness. As a side note his Dad was my Sunday school teacher for a year or two at Pecos.

Bobby Riahiahmadi says:

My most heartfelt condolences for your tragic loss, Wishing you strength and support for the coming days.💐💐💐

John Ivey says:

Steve Johnson, lifelong friend since the 7th grade. Of all the triumphs Steve achieved, Christian, Husband, Father and Friend made the best impression on me. My prayers are for the Johnson family. God bless you.
John Ivey

Carolyn Gilligan says:

Sally, I was so sorry to hear of Steve’s passing. He was such a genuine person, and a great hydrologist who taught me so much. He will be so missed. My sincere condolences.

Kim & Danny Garrett says:

What a legacy! Prayers for your family!
Psalm 116:15

Wes Woodard says:

Steve was a good Christian Corps buddy at Texas A&M. He was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.

Joe Brunt says:

As a fellow member of the A&M Class of 1961 when Steve was in Squadron 12, I was in Squadron 11. So we lived in the same dorm. The main thing I remember about Steve was he was a friend of everyone. We visited at several Class of 61 reunions. Prayers for the family on the loss of a fine man.

Melvin Spinks says:

Our deepest condolences to the Johnson family. Steve was a friend and a great engineer that inspired me and many others in the field of water resources engineering. May God bless you and your family.

The Mikhail’s says:

What a wonderful man! He leaves behind an amazing family to keep his legacy alive. We are so sorry for your loss but rejoicing in the fact that you will be reunited again in Heaven one day. Sending our love Barrett and family!

Jeff Collins says:

An excellent engineer who always left you smiling after an interesting conversation.

Pam Osicka says:

I met Steve while volunteering in the kitchen on Wednesdays.
He made me laugh a lot. He had his favorite apron he called “old Yeller.” I knew better that to grab that one. That was his.
He was such a bright & shining presence.
Jim remembers sitting around the table with Kevin & him & he mentioned some interesting topics.
We will miss him a lot.

Eva Holloway says:

Steve was such a wonderful person. He will be missed by many friends. Sally my prayers are for comfort for you .

Brian and Sarah Hunt and family says:

Our family has had the privilege of knowing many of Steve’s relatives in Georgia. How incredible to see his life and legacy living on into the third and fourth generations. Our prayers are with you all. Psalm 23:4

James Brown says:

Men like Steve do not come along very often. He was someone you wanted to be around and always brightened the room when he walked in. He always made you feel comfortable and always had something interesting to talk about. Every time I left a conversation with Steve I had learned something new. I will always miss him.

Jasper Snellings says:

Steve’s earthly presence will be missed and our prayers of comfort go out to Sally and the entire Johnson and Burton families. Steve was a gold prospector and in the last book of the Bible there is the description of Heaven: “the great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). Steve is there!
God’s Blessings and Comfort,
Larry & SuZanne Snellings
John 3:16

Carissa M. Fabian says:

My sincerest condolences to Steve’s family. As a young engineer, I had the great pleasure of working with and learning so much from Steve. I was always amazed how he could take a complex subject like hydrology and simplify it so everyone understood. Always smiling and friendly, he was fun to work with and he is truly missed.

Betsy Nolan says:

Steve certainly leaves a wonderful legacy of love and caring.

Gary Mensik says:

Sally, Sharon and I are so sorry for you and your family’s loss. Steve was so friendly and treated everyone with respect. I have known Steve for nearly forty years and he was a Great man and role model to so many of us. He will be truly missed. Our prayers are with you and your family.

Debbie Landers says:

I have so many fond memories of working with Steve at LJA. He was such a good man, a great example to our younger staff and a wonderful story teller. We will all miss him dearly.

Sandy Ladner says:

Dearest Sally and family members, I am heartbroken over your loss. Heaven has gained one of the best! Steve was such a remarkable man and left a far reaching legacy in all aspects of his life; such a gift for so many. I know he will live inside your heart, the memories deeply felt and treasured. Be comforted in your faith and know that he is rejoicing, fully restored in the grace of God. You and your family are in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers. May God bring you comfort in your grief 🙏🏼❤️.

Alejandro Flores says:

So sorry Burton and family. I meet Steve in 1980. Our profession has lost a brilliant mind, a nice and humble person that will be missed. My prayers and thoughts are with you and family. May God bless you and give you strength in this difficult time. My sincere condolences.

J Grayson says:

Steve and Sally have been our neighbors for over 32 yrs. Steve is an outstanding example of an American Christian man, husband and father. On top of that, he was one of the smartest, most curious and interesting people one could ever know. We loved him.
John, Teresa and Mason Grayson

Buddy Bradford ‘61 says:

Dear Sally,

Heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family during this most difficult time.

It means so much to me that we were together in September for our 60th Class of ‘61 reunion at Texas A&M!

May you feel the love of Christ and love from all your friends and other family members.

Your friend in Christ,

Buddy Bradford ‘61

David Wallace says:

Steve and I went to Pecos schools together, played football and graduated from A&M together. From there our paths went different directions. A genuine friend, we missed out on decades of friendship and Christian fellowship. Blessings on all of Steve’s family and friends.

Rich and Diana Motter says:

What a wonderful tribute to your brother, Cindy. Our prayers are with you and your family. God bless you all and give you comfort as you celebrate his life.

Dean and Jo Thompson says:

Sally we are so sorry for your loss. We had a great time on the Panama Canal Travelling Aggie cruise with you and Steve and enjoyed seeing you at Aggie events. Steve and I were in the same Aggie ’61 class, and I will answer for him at the next Aggie muster. God bless you and your family through this difficult time.

Jo Ann Boulter says:

Dear Sally and family;
God bless you and your family as you go through this time.
Steve was a great classmate and friend in Pecos High School. He was a good friend to my husband, Ray (’57). We really enjoyed seeing y’all at the last PHS class reunion.

Greg DiCioccio says:

Burton…I’m very sorry for you and your family’s loss. During my time at the HCFCD (Planning Dept), I was privileged with the opportunity to work with your Dad on many H&H projects while he was at LJ/A. He was an H&H pioneer in Harris County and most importantly, just a GREAT guy. He often injected a little humor into project discussions which made our meetings enjoyable. The local Engineering community has lost a good one and he will be missed.

Kriss Brink says:

Rest in Peace, Steve.

Mike Fitzgerald says:

Condolences to the family of Steve Johnson. When I went to work for Galveston County in January 1979 I soon discovered the Johnson Sayre Report which quickly became my reference for learning about hydrology and flood control. Steve was the co-author of this document which was quickly recognized throughout Houston’s engineering community. Through LJA Steve designed several very unique solutions to long standing flooding problems in Galveston County. There was never a flooding issue Steve couldn’t address with practical solution. RIP Steve.

Douglas L McClung, DDS says:

Dear Sally,
So sad to hear about Steven! He was my patient for 33 years. What a GREAT man!! Loved seeing and visiting with him! He knew God, you could just tell! Know all will miss him!
Dr Buddy McClung

Margaret Gill Dorsett says:

Dear Sally and Family, my prayers are for you and all your family, Steve was loved by everyone who was
luckey enough to know him, He will be greatly missed. Margaret Dorsett

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