By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
William E. “Bill” “Smiley” Johnson
William E. “Bill” “Smiley” Johnson

MADISON – William E. “Bill” ”Smiley” Johnson, age 95, died peacefully on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at The Ellen and Peter Johnson Residence at Agrace Hospice in Fitchburg.

Bill was born on September 4, 1923 in Brodhead, WI the son of Oscar Norman and Mary (Hahn) Johnson.  He graduated from Monroe High School in 1941 where he was an All-State Basketball player. He continued his education, earning a B.S. and his basketball career at UW-Madison where he was named Second Team All-Big 10, his senior season.

Bill married Jane Spaulding Weston of Madison, in June of 1946. They met at the University of Wisconsin. Smiley's basketball career led them to Midland, Mich., for a few years followed by a move back to Madison. In 1953, Bill and Jane moved to Rocky River, Ohio, near Cleveland and lived there for 45 years, raising their five children with loyal participation in the community.  During those years Bill and Jane drew upon the strength of their faith, family, and friends in grieving the premature deaths of their beloved children Peter and Nancy. 

In Cleveland, Bill enjoyed a long successful sales career in the Machine Tool Industry with the Gisholt Machine Company and later Giddings & Lewis. Bill and Jane moved back to Madison in 1998 and enjoyed their retirement at Cherokee Condominiums and moved to Capital Lakes in Madison in 2013.

In the context of family and community, Bill made friends wherever he went.  His gift was his genuine desire to hear every new friend’s story.  He leaves a legacy of love, faith and optimism and an example of steadfastness, humility and joy.  He loved his family, his friends, the Badgers, the Cubs, Bridge and “cheesies.”   

Bill is survived by his sons, David (Katie) Johnson and Bill (Cindy) Johnson and his daughter, Laura (Rick) Carlson; his ten grandchildren, Kaia (Andy) Sveen, Sara (Jeremiah) Tiede, Dana, Peter (Sarah), Alec (Kelly) Johnson, Jenner ( Luke) Schlafly, Kenzie, Jack (Izzy), Brady, and Christy Carlson; and great-grandchildren, Elizabeth and Henry Tiede, John William Sveen and Lucile Johnson.. He is further survived by his siblings, Jean Trumbo and Peter (Ellen) Johnson, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Jane; his son, Dr. Peter Johnson; daughter, Nancy Johnson; his siblings, Eleanor Erickson and Urban Johnson, and numerous beloved family members.

A memorial service will be held at FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF MADISON, 203 Wisconsin Ave., Madison, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, 2019.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Care for All Endowment Campaign-Agrace HospiceCare, the UW Carbone Cancer Center, the First United Methodist Church of Madison, Wis., or Rocky River United Methodist Church.  The Johnsons wish to thank family and friends for their immense love and support through this time. To view and sign this guestbook please visit