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Spring 2002
Why I Give
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KEITH L. JOHNSON '57, M.A. '62:
REMEMBERING A MENTOR

KEITH  L. JOHNSONHe makes it sound like it's no big deal. "I'm just trying to start this fellowship," Keith Johnson says over the phone from his home in Chico, Calif.

His voice sounds younger than that of a man who earned his B.A. in anthropology from UCLA in 1957. After he completed his M.A. in 1962, he and his wife, Karen '57, and their 3-year-old son, Christopher, headed north, where Johnson took a job as the sole anthropology faculty member at California State University, Chico. He ended up almost single-handedly building that school's anthropology department and also founded the Museum of Anthropology in Chico in 1970.

Johnson recently retired — but only in theory. Now he's working double-time to come up with a $100,000 gift to UCLA to honor his mentor.

The late Professor of Anthropology Clement W. Meighan was, for Johnson and countless others, an inspirational, heroic figure. Nicknamed "The Prof" as a child for his intelligence and voracious reading habits, Meighan completed much of his undergraduate work at UC Berkeley while in a hospital bed convalescing from combat injuries he received in World War II. He went on to become a leading figure in California archaeology.

When Johnson arrived at UCLA as a 17-year-old freshman, Meighan had been on the faculty for only a year and was serving as adviser to new students. The campus, Johnson recalls, "was huge." Meighan helped cut UCLA down to size for Johnson and his fellow freshmen, while simultaneously opening doors for them into a wide new world.

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