George Johnson died peacefully at home on November 20, 2022 of heart failure at the age of 85.

George didn’t believe in funeral services or even obituaries like this, but he did want his friends and enemies to know that he died happy and unrepentant.

He died happy because he loved his family and he loved Boulder and his wide circle of friends. George died unrepentant because, in the face of constant status quo opposition, he did his best to make things better.  He moved to Boulder in the early seventies to take a very low paid position at CU’S Legal Aid Program.  He immediately got in hot water at CU, never managed to get right with them and finally got himself fired in 1978. Other faculty stints proved similarly unsuccessful. Several times rejected, George finally went into a solo Boulder practice to find himself a boss that liked him. In his practice, he struggled to even the playing field for his clients.

George started early. Two years out of college, he joined very first Peace Corps project, where he ran a rural road building project in far southern Tanzania. He then somehow got into law school.  Rather than try to wedge himself into a Wall Street firm, he volunteered during his first and second law school summers with unpaid  civil rights projects. His law practice reflected his political passions. He represented Black Panthers, White Panthers, and innumerable protesters and community groups struggling against the status quo. In conjunction with hundreds of student protestors, he drove CIA recruiting off the CU campus permanently; making CU the sole American university the CIA doesn’t dare to recruit at.  Sometimes George won, more often he lost but he never stopped trying.

He married four times, first to Harriet Cohen, then to Elizabeth Farrell and then to Nancy Wallen.  By great good fortune, late in life George met his true love, Peggy Wrenn, herself a major Boulder Community stalwart.  Even greater fortune blessed them with their son, Colin Johnson Wrenn. Together, they lit up George’s last four decades.

He’ll be missed.  He took part in the actions and passions of his time:  he can be judged to have lived.

Peggy Wrenn, George’s wife and his son Colin Wrenn will be organizing a Celebration of George’s life, in early 2023.

9 thoughts on “George A. Johnson”

  1. I was the beneficiary of George’s wisdom and insight into criminal defense as a student in the Legal Aid and Defender Program at the CU Law School in the 1970’s, and went on to an almost 10 year career as a public defender in Philly and Arapahoe County. We kept in touch over the years. Thanks George for sharing your wonderful soul and spirit.

  2. A stalwart left-winger, there was never a Boulder protest, a march, a progressive gathering where I didn’t run into George Johnson. Always a smile and a hug for me from his lofty height. And he was so adorably handsome!! It just gave me a thrill to see him. He will be so missed.

  3. My thoughts are with you and Colin as you grieve the loss of George in your lives. He helped and supported many grateful people. I hope your many memories will help carry you through your the days and months to follow. I remember his enthusiastic support of Women Work Together, he cheered us on from the beginning! I’m so sorry for you loss. hugs from afar, Nicky

  4. One the best humans this Earth has ever seen. Journey on my sweet Uncle, thanks for fighting the good fights in law, awesome music on your guitar, quirky little communications, sweet memories as a family and for always having my back. Truly the best Uncle a niece could ever ask for. Always in my heart, never far from my thoughts, journey forward into the Great Mystery, Thanks for the Earth Walk, it has been a blessing!

  5. I remember when George, Collin and Peggy welcomed my husband and me into the neighborhood when we moved her in 2001. They were so warm and helpful. I appreciate what they did and continue to do for the community . Peggy and Geroge are true soulmates and their love will continue forever. We had many laughs together which I cherish to the utmost.

  6. I want to add to my previous comment. George always smiled, no matter what was going on in his life, and always said hello and took time to talk. I loved when he sat on the bench outside the front door and played guitar and sang or was reading a book. It always made me smile and cheered up my day.

  7. Sending Infinite Love And Peace… “We-each of us-are intricately, irremovably connected to the larger universe. It is our true home, and thinking that this physical world is all that matters is like shutting oneself up in a small closet and imagining that there is nothing else out beyond it.”… Eben Alexander MD

    Jacqueline & Ed Arnold

  8. George was one of a kind-an inspiration when I was at CU Law in the 1970’s and beyond he kept the flame burning and we even shared a love of Krimmel guitars. Condolences to his family and friends he will be missed.

  9. I moved to Colorado in 1986. Being interested in politics, I started to notice this guy (George), who wrote letters to the editor in the Daily Camera often. I agreed with everything he said. I began to write letters also. I followed George all the time. He encouraged me with his thoughts and kept me remembering that there were people who saw things differently than main stream/status quo. I felt like I knew him through the paper. Like George, I was also an ex-Peace Corps volunteer and interested in cultures and languages. I began to work with the Hmong community in Lafayette. I invited him to come to a Hmong New Year held in Lafayette, which he did. I got to finally meet him! He was just like his wonderful letters. I read everyone of his letters and enjoyed them immensely. I will miss this brother and wonderful man.

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