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Giving blood is way of life for Johnson
Dale Johnson

The blood bank cause is close to the heart of retired Manteca photographer Dale Johnson and his wife Pat.

 The couple ran Johnson Studio on East Yosemite Avenue from 1949 to the mid 1980s.

Similar to the Delta Blood Bank drive  being held this Friday at the MRPS Hall at 133 M. Grant Ave., Johnson organized countless blood drives in years past at St. Paul’s United Federated Church on Powers Avenue at North Street.

The longtime portrait and wedding photographer has donated more than 10 gallons of his own blood. His wife gave another five gallons.

Johnson took over the blood drive “insurance program” from former banker Walter Burkett.  The plan had organized some four to five churches in the community to ask their members to donate at least one unit of blood each year as a church group.

In exchange for those donations any member of their family would be assured of all the blood they might need for a surgery to an unforeseen accident.  Hundreds of church members from St. Paul’s to the Assembly of God and Calvary Community Church took advantage of the program that ended in 2008.

Delta Blood Bank blood drive coordinator Cheryl Kirwan said Wednesday that there are hundreds of donors still under the insurance program.  They religiously give a minimum of one unit of blood per year. Newcomers may no longer join in the plan.

Johnson said for years he took flyers around to Manteca’s churches to encourage people to join the blood plan.  If they didn’t, they could always tie into St. Paul’s Church program.

The retired photographer said he used the Manteca Bulletin continually to get the word out to the community about the urgent need to donate blood. He remembers using 10-gallon water jugs in a publicity photograph that he filled with water and red dye to demonstrate an impact of the life-saving value of the effort.

It was back in 1942 when the country was at war that Johnson first recognized the need for giving blood.  He was in Navy boot camp in Washington state when a nationwide call from the government urged citizens and military alike to donate blood to the war effort.

Johnson spent time in a Marine hospital after boot camp where he was given the opportunity to work in an X-ray lab processing film.  From there he went aboard ship – the General F. Black, AP135 – as the ship’s photographer.  After the war he came to Manteca and took over an existing photography studio in 1949.  He continued to urge others to follow his lead in donating their blood for the common good of his new home community.  He had grown up in Santa Rosa.

Johnson’s blood is valued, as it is a rare type O-positive.  While he has been retired for nearly 30 years, he continues to donate his blood to help others.  He is also still very involved in his St. Paul’s Church.

Delta Blood Bank will be set up on Friday at the MRPS Hall from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. where they will welcome donors with a pint of ice cream coupon from Baskin Robbins and a free T-shirt from the Sizzler Restaurant.  Kid Red Entertainment is bringing Mickey Mouse to entertain the donors and their children.  A raffle gift basket is being provided through Manteca Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. Boomers is also giving coupons to the donors.

A valid photo ID is required with the date of the donor’s birth.  Blood donors should be in good general health and at least 16 years old with a minimum body weight of 115 pounds.  Teen donors must have signed permission slip before being allowed to donate blood.