J. Patrick Johnson, MD

history of healing

Dr J. Patrick Johnson is the son of Dr Alexander Charles Johnson who was the second born of Alexander Leroy Podwinetz Johnson who was an immigrant from Budapest, Hungary and was as a Captain in the United States Cavalry assigned to protection of the US-Mexican border and Elena Mix of Nogales, Arizona (Territory) on September 15, 1918. Dr Alexander Johnson grew up as the son of an Army officer and lived in numerous places while growing up including the Phillipines, , Fort Lewis Washington, Fort Mead, Maryland, and Washington, DC where he served as a page in the US Senate while attending school then later attended high school in Raleigh, North Carolina graduating in 1936.

He attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina and majored in Premedical studies and competed on the boxing team and played football graduating in1940 and Commissioned as a Lieutenant in US Army reserves in Coast Artillery. As the World War II was starting, he began an accelerated medical school program at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia due to the outbreak of the war. Dr Johnson graduated from MCV in 1942 and served a surgical internship in Jacksonville, Florida with Neurosurgeon, Dr James Lyerly, who was the only neurosurgeon in the region and an inspiration to his career development and pursuits. He then returned to Richmond to begin his neurosurgery residency at MCV under the direction of Dr Claude Coleman who was the first Professor of Neurosurgery at MCV and trained under Dr Harvey Cushing in Boston. In 1943 he married Jane Louise Koepper, who he met as a nursing student at MCV from New Rochelle, New York and she became his life partner. Dr Johnson served his final year of residency while in the Army as Chief of Neurosurgery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas until 1946 then returned again to Richmond and joined the Department of Neurosurgery faculty at MCV.

In 1949 Dr Johnson moved his young family and established his practice and the Montana Neurological Clinic in Great Falls, Montana as the first neurosurgeon in a five state region in the northern Rocky Mountain states. He built a practice that included neurosurgery and neurology that had outreach clinics throughout the state of Montana, and he continued his academic pursuits with publications in neurological and neurosurgical journals regularly from what he described as “the wide open spaces of Central Montana”. He was a Founding Member of the Rocky Mountain Neurosurgery Society and serving as President in 1972. He read journals and attended professional meetings to continue advancing his knowledge and his accomplishments were recognized being invited to join the University of Utah Department of Neurosurgery as a Clinical Professor teaching residents in training at the University of Utah to study under his direction at his Montana clinical practice that he took great pride. He continued his practice until 1989 and retired to a consulting practice after 40 years of clinical practice in Montana.

His outside interests and service were many that he balanced with his family. He was an avid hunter and competitive rifle and pistol shooter that he enjoyed with his wife and family. His wife, Jane, often exceeded his highly expert level of competition at shooting tournaments throughout Montana and the Northwestern US. He served as the Great Falls Police Commissioner for 18 years and on hospital staff and executive staff at the Columbus and Deaconess hospitals as well as the Veteran’s hospital in Helena, Montana. He enjoyed travel where he and Jane travelled multiple times to Mexico, Central America and South America. He was also an avid flying enthusiast from teenage days and had his private pilot license with multi-engine and instrument ratings that he used to serve outreach clinics in multiple cities in Montana. Horsemanship was a lifelong interest dating back being a youngster as the son of a US Cavalry officer, and he pursued this interest developing a cattle ranch and farming business in the Missouri River Breaks in Central Montana that he operated with his family and continues today with his sons working the cattle ranch.

Dr Alex Johnson was truly an inspiration to his four sons and three had attended The Citadel in his foot-steps. His third son, J. Patrick Johnson MD, had a lifelong interest in both human and veterinary medicine from growing up in the family of a neurosurgeon and on a cattle ranch that was influenced by his father’s endless pursuit of knowledge and excellence in medicine that inspired his son, J. Patrick, to also pursue a career in medicine. The younger Dr Johnson states “in retrospect it is very clear that my father’s role as a leader and pioneer in neurosurgery was a motivating factor in choosing perhaps the most arduous discipline in medicine and longest training program and demanding practice in medicine.” Although other disciplines of medicine initially had created interest, it was the many intellectual, creative, and personal challenges of neurosurgery that led his son, J. Patrick Johnson MD, to enter Neurosurgery and blaze his own unique path as a neurosurgeon.