Cover photo for Walter Johnson's Obituary
Walter Johnson Profile Photo
1929 Walter 2023

Walter Johnson

December 20, 1929 — January 8, 2023

In loving memory of Walter Steve Johnson
December 20, 1929 – January 8, 2023


Walter Steve Johnson passed away on Sunday, January 8, 2023, at home in Las Vegas, Nevada, with family by his side. Born in Martinez, California in 1929, Walter lived a full and fascinating life. He was an especially kind, charming, and wise man who made friends up to his last days and will be greatly missed by those who knew him as a brother, father, friend, musician, Air Force pilot, civil engineer, teacher, mentor, and grandfather.

Walter spent most of his childhood in the Contra Costa town of Concord in the San Francisco Bay Area. Inspired by his two heroes, naturalist John Muir and author Jack London, he often led his two younger brothers, Steve and Gilbert, on explorations of nearby Mt. Diablo and the eastern hills of San Francisco Bay. Walter’s brothers are grateful not only of his enthusiasm for nature but also that he shared with them his interest in mechanics and music. As a teenager Walter was an avid athlete, talented student and violinist. At the age of 17, he played violin for the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from Mt. Diablo High School in 1947 where he was a record setting member of the track and field team.
After high school Walter trained to be a military jet pilot at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. There he met and eventually married the love of his life, Minerva.
Walter then attended San Diego State University and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. For the next 20 years, Walter mostly resided in Southern California with Minerva and their four children, Renee, Michael, Teresa and Lydia. As a Junior Design Engineer for the City of San Diego, Walter designed the Mission Valley Interceptor and subsequently was promoted to System Engineer for the Utilities Department. In 1970, he worked as Research Engineer and Operations Manager of the Irvine Ranch Water District. There he began to sculpt a lifelong expertise in wastewater management. He became a Process Engineer for a consulting firm overseeing eight wastewater treatment plants, for which he wrote the operating manuals. He designed and started wastewater treatment plants in Puerto Rico with Engineering Sciences and designed and supervised the construction of wastewater treatment plants in Saudi Arabia with two international engineering companies (Aramco and Bechtel).

Walter and Minerva enjoyed their years as world travelers and chose to relocate to Nevada and eventually Las Vegas. Walter worked as the designer for the Fernley, Nevada, wastewater treatment plant in 1983/1984 and worked for the Nevada Division of Environmental protection (NDE) as an Environmental Engineer from 1991 – 1993, based in Las Vegas. He is the recipient of many awards including the US Water Environmental Federation Bedell Award, Hatfield Award, and Environmental Engineer of the year by EPA Region 9. He was a lifetime member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Walter is a recipient of a US patent for the operation of wastewater treatment plants.
Walter contributed extensively to improving water quality management in Clark County as a process control specialist for Clark County Water Reclamation District (1993 – 2001). There he introduced new process and switched from chemical to biological removal of phosphorus,resulting in major savings and consequently, overall improved water quality in the Las Vegas Was and Lake Mead.

In addition to his contributions to improving water quality, Walter enjoyed being a mentor to numerous wastewater operators, engineering students from UNLV and young faculty members from UNLV. He encouraged women and underrepresented students to become engineers and operators. In honor of his 90th birthday, a plaque was dedicated to Walter at Clark County Wetlands Park.
Walter never lost his interest in music and was a member of the Las Vegas Community Orchestra for several years (Violin). His children and grandchildren will always remember his extensive knowledge of music and his love of playing violin and classical guitar. He was always available by phone to listen to as his grandchildren practiced music and give encouragement.
Walter Steve Johnson is an inspiration to many generations and will be missed. He is survived by his brothers Steve Johnson, Gilbert Johnson, wife Minerva, children Renee Schrader, Michael Johnson, Teresa Houston, and Lydia Johnson and his six grandchildren. Walter was a kind and gentle soul who passed his love of nature, learning and integrity on to his family and all who knew him.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Open Viewing

Friday, February 24, 2023

11:00am - 11:30 pm (Eastern time)

Davis Funeral Home

, Las Vegas, NV 89146

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Funeral Service

Friday, February 24, 2023

Starts at 11:30 am (Eastern time)

Davis Funeral Home

, Las Vegas, NV 89146

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Burial

Friday, February 24, 2023

Starts at 1:20 pm (Eastern time)

Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery

1900 Veterans Memorial Dr, Boulder City, NV 89005

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