The Womble Bond Dickinson family mourns the loss of retired Partner Don Johnson, who passed away Tuesday, July 4 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Don was a founding member of the firm’s Atlanta office, which opened in 1996. This was the firm’s first office outside of North Carolina, and Don’s efforts helped make it a success, which set the stage for the firm’s subsequent growth.

In addition, he was known as a trusted advisor to public and private companies and a tireless advocate for his clients. Company leaders relied on Don to advise them both in major corporate transactions and in day-to-day operations. He was named the first winner of the firm’s H. Grady Barnhill, Jr. Award for Service to Clients Award in recognition of this dedication.

As Atlanta Office Managing Partner Joel Pieper said when Don retired in 2021, “Don Johnson is one of the founding partners of the Atlanta office on whose talent and tireless drive the office was built. He consistently modeled to me what remarkable devotion to clients looks like at its best. No one could outwork Don; but despite Don’s prodigious work ethic, he had a disarming humility and cheerful sense of humor that drew us in (even if, as baby lawyers, we were slightly in awe of his drive and energy).”

WBD Chair and CEO Betty Temple said, “Like Joel, I learned so many important lessons from Don. When I was an associate on the Corporate and Securities team, Don was one of the Partners who invested in me – and taught me what was truly important in the long run for building a successful practice. Throughout the years I continued to seek his wise counsel. Don had a talent for working with clients and entrepreneurial businesses.  His clients trusted his business and legal acumen, and his personal integrity. They knew he cared about their success – even more than about his own. As a result, Don developed life-long client relationships (really friendships) that defined his career.  Working with Don helped me understand the importance of developing relationships and building trust.  And this informed much of the strategy of our firm and is a cornerstone of our firm’s DNA.  Don truly made our clients and our firm better and his legacy lives on in so many of us.  He will be deeply missed.” 

Don was a graduate of Emory University and the University of Georgia School of Law. Before entering private practice in 1975, he served in the U.S. Army.

The firm would like to extend our condolences to Don’s family, including his wife, Sharon, a partner in our Atlanta office. 

The family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, July 11 at Mount Paran Church of God at 2055 Mt. Paran Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30327. A celebration of his life will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11 at Mount Paran.

Click here to read Don’s obituary