Like many of his Toms River High classmates, Dave began life after high school by serving his country in World War II. After participating in active battles in Germany, then serving in the occupation, Dave published a history of his battalion in hardcover, the first work in a lifetime of distinguished journalism and photography. Returning home after the war, Dave went to work for the Ocean County Sun as a "printer's devil," melting down lead for the printing presses in the early days of "hot metal." It was here that he learned the newspaper business from the "bottom up." Little did he know then that one day this publication would be his own---a powerful and conscientious voice of the community for many years.
In 1950 Dave joined the staff of the New Jersey Courier as Advertising Manager. There he developed the photography skills which would later enable him to "make his mark" in an era when few press photographers existed in the area. While at the Courier, Dave also created his popular column, "This Is My Business," known most simply as "Dave Johnson's column." Introduced in the days when editorial writing was scarce, Dave's column dealt with myriad social, civic, business and political issues of the day.
During these years, Dave also published The Guide Post, Ocean County's annual vacation and business directory. This popular publication could be found in travel agencies, hotels and businesses through the region, and for many years was the only source of such information. Copies of The Guide Post were requested, and became one of the most popular New Jersey publications at the New Jersey pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair.
In 1957, Dave became co-owner and publisher of the Ocean County Sun. He also opened Dave Johnson Photography Studios on Highway 37, which continued there until 1979. As publisher of the Ocean County Sun, Dave quickly worked to change the format and headlines of the paper, providing readers with coverage seldom found in small papers of the period. Dave was responsible for advertising, layout, sales, photography and management. During more than two decades at the Sun, Dave traveled the US and the world to bring interesting articles and his unique perspective "back home" to Ocean County. From stories on the NORAD command base in the mountains of Colorado to articles about Scotch Whisky in Glasgow, Scotland and perfumes and champagnes in France, Dave was truly a "RenaissanceWriter" whose intellect, creativity, and passion for the news saw no boundaries.Yet, Dave always put his hometownfirst. He never lost sight of where his heart really was and where his talents were needed most. In 1962, he produced a 32-page pictorial history of the devastating nor'easter that hit the Jersey shore. This work, entitled "The Great Storm of 1962," sold more than 200,000 copies and was described by the Governor Richard J. Hughes as "the finest report I have seen on this great tragedy." As Editor and Publisher of The Ocean County Sun, Dave supported and advocated major community projects, including the opening of the Community Memorial Hospital, Ocean County College (the first County College in the New Jersey County College System),the moving of the Ocean County Fair to the Robert J. Miller Airport, the Garden State Philharmonic Symphony Society and its major Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra and many Toms River school activities and events. Through it all, Dave continued to be a positive force and strong advocate for the community, highlighting the achievements of its citizens, helping its business and commerce to grow, and opposing projects he believed to be harmful to the area.
Dave sold The Ocean County Sun in 1969, his last column appearing in 1971. Shortly thereafter, Dave founded the Sun Printing and Graphics Company. Dave was an active Director of the First National Bank of Toms River from 1977 until 1991. During the years, Dave has been an enthusiastic supporter of Toms River school reunions and was instrumental in planning the 50-year, three-day weekend reunion of the Toms River High class of 1943. Dave often speaks fondly of his high school days at Toms River High, rememberingteachers such as Elizabeth Force, Dewitt "Doc" Ricketts,and librarian Bessie McLean. "As for the other members of the faculty that taught me, from grade one through high school, I couldn't have asked for better, but in retrospect, I amaware that I could have given more. Still, my 12 years in Toms River Schools were a foundation that never crumbled."The Toms River Schools Hall of Fame is proud to honor Dave Johnson as an alumnus who HAS GIVEN MORE to the town he grew up in, the town he loves and, throughout his distinguished career and all his accomplishments, the town he never left. Thanks for staying home, Dave!
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