August 3 2020

Obituary: Beloved Family Man Who Worked on Apollo Space Missions Kevin Lyons Johnson, 85


A Burlington man whose name is forever displayed in the Smithosian for his contribution to the Apollo Space Mission has passed. 


Kevin Lyons Johnson, a retired mechanical engineer, passed away of natural causes on Friday morning, July 31, 2020, his obituary from Sullivan Funeral Home states. He was 85 years old. 

Kevin was born in Boston, the son of Charles and Inez Johnson.  He grew up and was educated in Arlington. After graduating from Arlington High School, he went on to earn his Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Northeastern University. He then served his country as a First Lieutenant in the US Army. He spent much of his time in the service stationed in Germany a member of Company D of the 24th Engineering Battalion. 

He and his beloved wife, Betty, settled in Burlington during his working years. 

Kevin had a long and distinguished career as a mechanical engineer, a career he seemed destined to undertake from an early age. 

“As a child he had a mischievous and inquisitive nature,” his obituary reads. “He was the kid that would take apart his mom’s vacuum cleaner and washing machine to see how they worked and then reassemble them to good as new. He would spend endless hours putting together model airplanes, boats, and assorted other projects.”

He worked for Sylvania, AVCO, Raytheon, and ended his career at MITRE.  It was during his 25 years with Raytheon that he worked on projects for the Apollo Space Missions.  His name is prominently displayed at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum’s Wall of Honor recognizing those who contributed to the US Space Program. His job was to develop an experiment to locate water on the moon.

Kevin was also an advocate for those who need support. 

“Throughout his career he was a mentor for black students,” his obituary reads. “He worked with students through Boston Partners in Education Inc. The January 5, 1989 ‘Speaking to Tomorrow’s Leaders’ Supplement in the Boston Herald contained an article about him talking to middle and high school students regarding the importance of education.  The July 27, 1997 Boston Globe ran a full page interview and photograph of him talking to students about Apollo 17.  

Kevin was also a true friend and family man and was always willing to help his friends and neighbors. 

“He was the go to person when a neighbor and teenagers needed help with car repairs,” his obituary reads. “The boys in the neighborhood looked up to him. He was entertaining, and a wealth of knowledge regarding history, jazz music and car repair. He was a huge live jazz fan and had a great appreciation for its history. He enjoyed summer vacations on Cape Cod and many trips with his family.”


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