Carl Johnson, 57, a longtime advocate and researcher for Route 66 in Illinois, died early Wednesday at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Ill.
Health problems had beset Johnson in recent years, and his condition took a turn for the worse in the past week or so, reported several people in the Illinois Route 66 community.
Previously a sergeant in the Army, Johnson worked as a surveyor for a number of years — an occupation that helped him in finding information about old roads such as Route 66. A diligent and passionate researcher about old alignments of Route 66, he wrote articles for the Route 66 Association of Illinois, the National Historic Route 66 Federation, and the now-defunct Route 66 Pulse newspaper.
In August, Johnson was featured in a story by the Illinois Times newspaper. He contended that a 1926-30 alignment of Route 66 is mistakenly marked in Springfield, and other Route 66 researchers concurred.
He also mapped the official pathway of Route 66 for the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
A news release today from Logan County Tourism said:
“Carl knew an incredible amount about Route 66 in Illinois and beyond. He provided very helpful information and data for projects in our county and our state, and that is how I got to know him,” said Geoff Ladd, director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County and president of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “We became close friends, and I am incredibly saddened by this news.”
Johnson also was a member of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.
Johnson is survived by his father, Robert W. Johnson of Gibson City; daughter Krista Johnson; fiancé Beth Teague of Springfield; sisters Janice Moshier of Peoria and Roberta (husband, David) Hageland of Elliott, Ill.; nephew Robert Ditch; nieces Priscilla Braden, Sheri Chandler, and Brenda Kramer; and nine great-nieces and nephews. His mother, Mariam Johnson, preceded him in death.
Family will receive friends from noon until the funeral at 3 p.m. Saturday at Kirlin-Egan & Butler Funeral Home, 900 S. Sixth St. in Springfield, which is on Route 66, appropriately enough. Celebrant Judy Woerner will officiate at the ceremony.