Northeast Nebraska man recognized 4 decades after death - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Northeast Nebraska man recognized 4 decades after death


Alvin Saunders Johnson made a big difference in the lives of many people all over the world.

This week, he received recognition from the state four decades after his death.

Economist, human rights activist, humanitarian, and educator are just a few titles that describe the late Homer, Nebraska native. 

"I think that some of the things that Alvin stood for are the kinds of things that have been important to me in my career, and they're the kinds of things that hopefully I've been able to extend on to my own children in their career, the sense of equality, the sense of social justice," Johnson's Great-Nephew Lee Rockwell said.

Johnson founded the New School in New York City, which focused on adult education.

"One of the things he used to sometimes say was, 'when you're young, you can learn anything, so that's the time for learning, but to become truly educated, you need the perspective of being an adult,'" Johnson's Grandson Mark Deyrup said.

This is just one reason Johnson was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame this week. Along with shaping the lives of American adults, he helped save Jews from persecution by the Nazis in the 1930s and '40s.

"He set up a system where the New School would give them teaching visas, and this allowed them to come to America when they would not have been able to get a visa normally," Deyrup said.

Johnson grew up in Northeast Nebraska, in a town that some of his family members had never visited until Saturday. Johnson's relatives and community members met in Homer, Nebraska to start their trip down memory lane.

"The original site where Alvin was born is gone. It was in ruins when Alvin was alive and came back in the '40s, but we kind of know the general location within a couple hundred yards of where his house was," Homer Nebraska Resident Eric Georgesen said.

Nebraska was a place grandson Mark Deyrup only heard about in his grandfather's stories.

"It's always exciting to see a place that you've previously held in your imagination," Deyrup said.

"It's just interesting that someone that went so far in life came from Homer originally and the fact that he grew up here is kind of a novelty," Georgesen said.

And, Johnson will always be someone the community can be proud of.

Johnson died at 97-years-old. His grandson said his memory was perfectly clear, even at that age.

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