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Ray Johnson

  • Ray Johnson, a former candidate for the Petaluma City Council, laughs as he talks with Dr. Thomas Stanton about his cancer at the Redwood Regional Oncology Center in Petaluma, California on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Former Petaluma planning commissioner and onetime city council candidate Ray Johnson died Thursday morning of cancer. He was 69.

Although he'd survived several bouts of cancer, Johnson's health worsened quickly the past few months after another diagnosis about two years ago.

He resigned from his appointed position on the planning commission earlier this month, saying he couldn't offer the best service to those seeking decisions from the board.

No services have been planned.

Johnson ran for a city council seat in 2010 on a pro-business platform and sometimes sparred with members of the city's progressive groups. He placed in the middle of the pack among nine candidates for council.

During the election, Johnson said he tried to walk the entire city, shaking hands and talking with voters.

An almost boundlessly energetic and upbeat man, Johnson said he found joy in meeting new people and seeing parts of Petaluma he hadn't visited before.

He sought appointment to an open seat on the council in 2011, but lost out to Gabe Kearney. In June 2012, the council appointed Johnson to the planning board.

Johnson was born in New York and worked in financial services before finding his true calling in sales.

He became an executive with Pacific Bell in San Francisco and commuted to the city for years before retiring a few years ago. His elderly mother lived in Petaluma and he talked fondly of taking care of her.

Johnson is survived by his wife, Virginia, who is active in several volunteer groups in Petaluma. The two were married for 14 years but together nearly 30.


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