Woodrow Wilson graduate and former U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson died of natural causes Wednesday at Plano Hospital. He was 89 years old.

Johnson grew up in Dallas and graduated from Woodrow in 1947. He met his wife, Shirley Melton Johnson, at Woodrow, and the two married during their senior year at Southern Methodist University in 1950, according to the Woodrow Wilson High School Facebook page. When she died in 2015, Johnson donated a tree to Woodrow in her honor. 

During his 29-year career as a military pilot in the Air Force, Johnson spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He shared a cell with the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. The two disagreed on many political issues, but Johnson defended him in 2015 when President Donald Trump said McCain was not a hero because he was a prisoner, USA Today reported. Vietnam released Johnson in 1973.

In 1984, Johnson was elected to the Texas Legislature. A few years later, in 1991, he began his term in the U.S. Congress. He served for two decades before retiring in 2019 at 88 years old, according to USA Today. He was the fourth U.S. Congressman from Woodrow.

Johnson is survived by his two daughters, Gini Johnson Mulligan and Beverly Johnson Briney, along with 10 grandchildren.


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