Memorial Service Information for Dennis “DJ” Johnson

May 9, 2022

The public memorial mass and reception in memory of Dennis “DJ” Johnson is Saturday, May 28th at 11 AM at St. Francis De Sales Church (2900 Woodburn Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45206), with a reception to immediately follow at Purcell Marian High School (2935 Hackberry Street, Cincinnati, OH 45206). Fr. Marty Solma, S.M., former faculty member of Purcell High School and dear friend of DJ, will be the celebrant of the Mass.

The family invites all who knew and loved DJ to attend to celebrate his life, impact, and share memories.

Should you wish to make a gift in memory of DJ, a scholarship to benefit a Purcell Marian student has been set up through The Dayton Foundation. A Purcell Marian alum, who wishes to remain anonymous, will match all alumni gifts up to $10,000. 

Here’s how you can donate: 


While a student at the University of Dayton, DJ made the decision to enter the Society of Mary (Marianists), a family of Catholic religious and lay people, as a Brother. Through the Marianists, Bro. Dennis Johnson found his vocation, serving Catholic schools as a teacher, counselor, athletic director, principal and administrator.

DJ was proud to lead all-male Purcell High School, beginning in 1977 and even prouder, when the school merged with all-female Marian High School in 1981, to become the first principal of co-ed Purcell Marian High School (PMHS). He continued in that role until 1993 and spent another decade at PMHS as director of alumni and development. He maintained a presence and remained committed to the school to his final days, volunteering, connecting with alumni and telling anyone who would listen, epic tales of the history, leaders and tradition of “The Castle” as the school in East Walnut Hills is known.

After two decades as a Marianist, DJ chose a new vocation as husband to Roberta (Berta) Leon. He left the order to begin a new chapter with her. Berta became the love of his life and a treasured friend to his Marianist brothers. Over the years, the former Brother with no children became a father, father-in-law, grandpa and great grandpa. He did more than adapt to his new lifestyle, he thrived in these roles and became the heart and soul of his family.

As in life, DJ continues to give in death, donating his body to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and through the establishment of the Dennis Johnson Scholarship Fund through the Dayton Foundation. In Fall of 2022, the scholarship will be awarded to a first-year student who has the desire to attend PMHS but who does not have the financial means to do so.

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