Dixie Archaeology Society

Preservation through Education

Boma Johnson - Obituary

(1939 – 2019)


Archaeologist Bernhart “Boma” Earl Johnson passed away unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep at midnight on August 23, 2019, at his new home in the Kanab Creek Ranchos, Kanab, Utah, with his wife of 25 years, Kathleen “Kat” Johnson at his side.


Boma was born in Denmark, Wisconsin November 4, 1939 to Bessie and Bernhart “Bert” Johnson, and developed an intense interest in Indian culture as a child. He served a mission for the LDS Church in the Los Angeles area. He later met and married his beloved first wife Alberta in the same area, and worked as a truck driver to support his growing family. Full credit should be given to Alberta for her support and encouragement for Boma to go back to school.


Boma’s childhood interest in Archaeology, and Native American culture later intensified after taking a class that linked both archaeology and anthropology, and he often maintained that he was an anthropologist, much more interested in the study of people than pots! He earned a double Masters degree in Archaeology & Ethnology in 1973, and completed a Cultural Management Resources Program in 1975. Boma then began his career with the Bureau of Land Management as an Archaeologist/Cultural Resources Management Specialist, working along the Lower Colorado River. His focus was on learning the origin, meaning and purpose of the many petroglyphs and geoglyphs found in that area, by coordinating his research with information from the Native American people in the region.


Boma worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Yuma, Arizona, raising six children with his beloved 1st wife Alberta, who passed away in April, 1993. Boma took an early retirement from the BLM, (but certainly not from archaeology) and moved to the red rock country of St George, Utah in 1999. He continued doing what he loved best: giving public presentations, leading volunteers on rock art tours, and teaching Archaeology & Earth Science classes at Dixie State University Community Education with his second wife Kat as his assistant. He emphasized “real archaeology” and the history of Native American people in the Southwest.


Boma had a lifelong love of animals, and rescued many feral cats, who often then became his beloved pets. Boma & Kat actually met in Kanab,Utah at a URARA rock art conference, and so they completed the full circle in November 2018 when they moved to their final home in Kanab. Boma enjoyed continued archaeological research and working on an update to his geoglyph book, working in his new home and garden, and the company of his 3 “fur babies”, Missy, Jagger & Jackson.


Bernhart “Boma” Johnson leaves behind his many devoted students and his large wonderful family-some of whom were actually willing to go on archaeological hikes with him! All who knew him will miss him.


Happy Trails To You, Boma, Till We Meet Again!