(Daily Montanan) Charles S. Johnson, retired Montana reporter, Capitol bureau chief, and longtime mentor to journalists, has died, the Helena Independent Record reported Monday.

“Johnson’s wife, Pat, told friends he was supposed to have dinner over the weekend with his relatives and, when he did not show, ‘they did a welfare check and found him gone,’ friends said,” according to the Independent Record. He was 74.

Tributes poured across Twitter on Monday from journalists and those who had worked with Johnson. He covered state politics as far back as the 1972 Constitutional Convention.

The University of Montana School of Journalism described Johnson, who studied journalism and history at UM, as “Montana’s finest journalist.”


On Twitter, retired editor and publisher Jim Strauss said Johnson’s passing was a “huge loss for Montana.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said the following in a statement:

“Chuck Johnson was a reporter’s reporter – always prepared, and always speaking truth to power. As a journalist, his integrity, commitment to truth, and willingness to hold people accountable earned him the respect of readers and elected officials alike, from both sides of the aisle. Chuck was a great reporter and even better man – and after keeping Montanans informed for decades, he will be sorely missed by family, friends, and countless others in the Treasure State. Sharla and my thoughts are with his family.”

Gov. Greg Gianforte said he and his wife, Susan Gianforte, were mourning his loss and praying for his family.

“Susan and I are deeply saddened with the passing of Chuck Johnson, our friend and a giant in political journalism. From the countless reporters whom he mentored generously to the state he loved so dearly, Montana has lost a legend. For over four decades, Chuck served the people of Montana as a fair, honest, affable, tenacious journalist with a deep passion for his craft. Susan and I mourn the loss of Chuck and pray for Pat and their loved ones.”