Dr. Robert Johnson
Dr. Robert Johnson
Dr. Robert Johnson
Dr. Robert Johnson
Dr. Robert Johnson
Dr. Robert Johnson

Obituary of Dr. Robert Johnson

Robert V. Johnson 


September 9, 2023


Robert Vincent “Bob” Johnson, M.D., co-founder of Orthopaedic Center of the Rockies, died unexpectedly on September 2, at home with his wife Ginny by his side. He was 89.

Bob had an abundance of love for his family. We adored him and treasured our adventures together. Above all, we cherished our time as a large, extended family sitting around the kitchen table, sharing stories and jokes, eating good food, and enjoying each other’s company. 

Bob was an avid photographer, world traveler, and inveterate sports fan. When not skiing, biking, or playing tennis, he enthusiastically supported local and regional sports teams. He was overjoyed when, after 47 years, the Denver Nuggets won the NBA Championship this year! His love of sports extended to his practice of medicine. He served as team doctor for Colorado State University’s football and basketball teams and Poudre High School’s football team for many years.

Bob’s insatiable drive and boundless energy helped him accomplish much in his professional life, but it also served him personally. He had an uncanny ability to focus. Bob could read, study, or watch a game uninterrupted amidst the chaos — or just as quickly catch a nap in a busy room, a talent he acquired during his medical residency. He was eager to accept a challenge, encouraging us to rise early with him and be first on the mountain to catch fresh powder. One of his greatest joys was watching his sons’ and grandchildren’s games, performances, and activities.

Through his orthopaedic practice, Bob touched the lives of thousands. His love for his patients and staff, both at Orthopaedic Center of the Rockies (OCR) and Poudre Valley Hospital, made going to work meaningful and deeply rewarding to him. The hospital staff and clinic nurses knew him as a leader, a gentleman, and a skilled surgeon who stayed calm under pressure. He often rose before dawn and stayed late to care for his patients. Early in his practice, he woke at any hour of the night to calls from the Emergency Room, where he would tend to the sick and injured.

Bob was born in Lafayette, Indiana, the oldest of six children, and raised in nearby Delphi. Their home was filled with music and love. Dinners were often preceded by grace sung in six-part harmony. Later in life, Bob and his siblings would spontaneously burst into song, to everyone’s delight. During his school years, Bob helped at the Delphi Citizen, a small-town newspaper his parents owned and operated. At Delphi High School, he was a member of the track and basketball teams, concert band, and choir.

In 1952, Bob entered DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, as a Rector Scholar and English major. He joined the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, developing many lifelong friendships. Bob switched to pre-med when he found that he enjoyed his fraternity brothers’ classes more than his own.

During his junior year, a fraternity brother suggested Bob call Ginny, a classmate at DePauw, for a date to a pig roast. Ginny accepted. This began their romance, a deep friendship based on mutual love and commitment. They never again dated anyone else.

During college, Bob participated in intramural sports, wrote for the school newspaper, and was a member of ROTC. Upon graduation, he and five fraternity brothers pledged to set aside a few dollars each month to save for traveling together to Europe one day. Twenty years later, the brothers and their spouses vacationed in France. The “Traveling Betas” enjoyed the experience so much that vacationing together became an annual event. 

Bob graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw in the spring of 1956. He spent the summer working in a pea canning facility in a Chicago suburb. Bob and Ginny married in August, and that fall, Bob enrolled at Northwestern University Medical School, marking the start of a nine-year stay in Chicago.

After his first year of medical school, Bob earned a Chicago Transit Authority Motorman’s Certificate and spent the summer driving a city bus. That same summer, Bob and Ginny welcomed their oldest son, Steve, to the family, followed by Mike in 1959 and Tom in 1961. Bob balanced the demands of his medical studies with family life, treating his kids to Cubs games, visiting the Science and Industry Museum, and feeding Mike the Polar Bear at Lincoln Park Zoo.

In 1960, Bob received his M.D. degree with honors. He completed his rotating internship at Chicago’s Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in 1961. After a four-year orthopaedic residency at the University of Illinois Research and Educational Hospitals, Bob enlisted in the United States Air Force. The family relocated to the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.

From 1965-67, during the Vietnam War, Bob served on active duty as an orthopaedic surgeon at Air Force Academy Hospital. He also served as physician to the Air Force Falcons sports teams, an experience that fostered his enduring interest in sports medicine. During their stay at the Academy, Bob and Ginny formed many lifelong family friendships that served as the basis for a group dubbed “The Falcons” who skied together each spring for decades.

Toward the end of his two-year military commitment, Bob and Ginny explored locations for launching his private orthopaedic practice. They learned that Dr. Douglas Murray, Fort Collins’s only orthopaedist, was searching for a partner. Bob entered into a medical partnership with Dr. Murray, and in 1967, Bob and Ginny moved their family to the town of 35,000 residents. The following year, they joyfully welcomed their fourth son, Matt, into the family.

In 1969, Doug and Bob joined forces with Drs. Chuck Collopy and Ben Magsamen to form Fort Collins Orthopaedic Associates. They built a clinic near Poudre Valley Hospital, where they were on staff. The practice flourished, as the group now included physicians trained in various orthopaedic specialties. Bob began his practice in general orthopaedics and later focused on cervical spine and knee care. He pioneered orthopaedic arthroscopy in Northern Colorado and eventually specialized in total knee replacements. 

The clinic expanded to serve a growing regional population. In 1990, FCOA was renamed Orthopaedic Center of the Rockies, and the group’s nine partners built a new clinic, surgery/recovery center, and therapy department at 2500 East Prospect Road. Bob continued to work there until he retired in 2002.

Bob served his profession by holding many offices and memberships. He was a board-certified member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a member of the American Medical Association, the Colorado Orthopaedic Society, the Colorado Medical Society, the Western Orthopaedic Association, and the Larimer County Medical Society, where he served as president in 1981. He was president of OCR from 1992-1994. At Poudre Valley Hospital, he was past chief of staff and a member of the board of directors. In 2000, Bob was team physician for the U.S. National Wrestling Team. He and Ginny traveled with the team to the 2000 Pan American Wrestling Championships in Cali, Colombia.

Outside of work, Bob was passionate about music, education, the arts, and the environment. He supported the Fort Collins Symphony, the Museum of Art Fort Collins, and Bas Bleu Theater and was on the Board of Directors of the Center for Fine Art Photography and the state Audubon Society. Bob was dedicated to Colorado State University and for nearly 25 years cared for students at the university’s student health center. A tireless fan of CSU athletics, he was a loyal member of the university’s Ram Club and Roundball Club.

Throughout his life, Bob was a committed photographer, capturing thousands of photographs and studying at workshops with nationally known photographers. He and Ginny, a watercolor artist, traveled extensively, photographing and painting across six continents. Many of Bob’s photographs can be seen on the walls of OCR and Poudre Valley Hospital. 

Bob had boundless energy and loved staying active. Ginny and Bob took dozens of cycling tours with friends and family in the U.S. and internationally. They rode the 400-mile Ride the Rockies tour in 1988, and in 1989, they climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Bob played tennis to stay fit, but the game was also a source of many of his treasured friendships, as were the Wind River Book Club, his Friday lunch group, and his neighbors.

Bob is survived by his wife of 67 years, Ginny Johnson; their four sons, Steve (Mary), Mike, Tom, and Matt (Hisae); 13 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; his siblings Ann Tudor, Mike Johnson, Jerry Johnson, and Mary Flower; and dozens of cherished nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Myron Johnson; mother, Eileen Rahilly Johnson; and sister, Sara Adair. 

Bob will be remembered for his honesty, integrity, kindness, and lifelong commitment to learning. His positive attitude and unbridled passion for life were infectious. His generosity and eternal optimism touched many in his family and beyond. He entertained us with jokes that remained funny no matter how often he told them.

Bob’s professional legacy lives on. OCR now comprises 47 physicians and employs more than 750 staff members. With facilities in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Lafayette, and Westminster, OCR is the largest privately owned, fully integrated orthopaedic and spine medical group in Colorado and one of the largest in the U.S.

A celebration of Bob’s life will take place at a public gathering on Saturday, November 11, from 12-3 p.m., at OCR in Fort Collins, 2500 East Prospect Road, Fort Collins 80524. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado at nocofoundation.org., Heifer International at heifer.org, or Audubon Rockies at rockies.audubon.org.


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Celebration of Life

12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies
2500 East Prospect Road
Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
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