Senator Tim Johnson
Johnson's roots run deep in the plains of South Dakota. A fourth-generation
South Dakotan, Tim was born in Canton to Van and Ruth Johnson. His
great-grandfather homesteaded near Centerville, so farming and ranching
concerns are second nature to Tim.
The son of a college professor and a homemaker, Tim, along with
his brother, Tom, and sister, Julie, learned early on the value
of a good education and the necessity of hard work.
Tim attended school in Canton, Flandreau, and Vermillion, where
he graduated from high school in 1965. He then attended the University
of South Dakota (USD), graduating with Phi Beta Kappa academic honors.
Tim went on to earn both a master's degree in Public Administration
and a law degree from the University of South Dakota.
During his undergraduate years at USD, Tim met Barbara Brooks of
Sioux Falls, whom he married shortly after graduating. Balancing
family needs with academic and work pressures is something Barbara
and Tim came to know well during their early years. After Tim completed
his graduate studies at USD, he worked as a budget analyst for the
Michigan State Senate Appropriations Committee while Barbara completed
her master's degree in social work. It was during this time that
their first child, Brooks, was born.
Tim began a private law practice in Vermillion in 1975, the same
year their second child, Brendan, was born. Just three years after
starting his own law practice, Tim was elected to the South Dakota
House of Representatives in 1978 and then reelected in 1980. Their
daughter, Kelsey, was born during his second term in the state House.
Though Tim and Barbara were both actively involved in raising their
children, Barbara put her master's degree to work and became very
active in children's issues and services.
After serving in the state House for four years, Tim ran for the
state Senate and was elected in 1982 and 1984. During his years
in the South Dakota Legislature, Tim earned a reputation as a hardworking,
effective author of sound fiscal and social policy. His achievements
did not go unnoticed. In 1979, the Vermillion Jaycees presented
him with the "Outstanding Citizen Award." In 1983, he
was the first recipient of the "Billie Sutton Award for Legislative
Achievement" presented by the South Dakota Democratic Party.
After eight years in the state legislature, Tim decided to take
his commitment to creating positive change for South Dakotans to
Washington. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
in 1986 with nearly 60 percent of the vote. During his first term
in Congress, he was responsible for passing more legislation than
any of the other 50 first-term members. And, he received national
awards by the National Farmers Union, Disabled American Veterans,
and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Within the House Democratic leadership
organization, Tim served as Regional Deputy Whip from 1991-94. Tim
served as South Dakota's congressman for five terms before being
elected to the Senate on November 5, 1996.
Tim has distinguished himself as South Dakota's senior Senator.
He serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate
Budget Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, the Senate Energy
and Natural Resources Committee, and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
2004, Democratic Leader Senator Harry Reid observed that he was
naming Tim to be the Vice Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee because
of his confidence in Senator Johnson's integrity and sense of fairness.
February of 2006, he was named to the Air Force Academy’s
a member of the prestigious Board of Visitors. He is one of three
members of the Senate to be appointed to this post by Senator Ted
Stevens (R-AK), President pro tempore of the Senate and chairman
of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Today, Tim is an active member of numerous policy-based organizations
and in his own community.
Tim and Barbara still have their home in Vermillion. Their oldest
son, Brooks, is in the U.S. Army having served in Bosnia, Kosovo,
South Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In May 2004, Brooks married
Naida Snipas Johnson of Boston, Massachusetts. Brooks remains on
active duty stateside. Their second eldest son Brendan worked as
an assistant prosecutor for Minnehaha County and currently practices
law in Sioux Falls. Their daughter, Kelsey, a 2004 graduate of the
University of South Dakota, is now working in public service in
In October 2003, Tim and Barbara proudly announced the birth of
their first grandchild, Sutton Timothy James Johnson to their second
eldest son, Brendan, and his wife, Dr. Jana Beddow Johnson of Sioux
Falls. In 2005, the Johnson family grew again, with two new grandsons
joining the ranks. In November 2005, Brooks and Naida welcomed their
first son, Arius Timothy Johnson, or Ari for short. Barely two weeks
later, Brendan and Jana announced the birth of their second son,
Cooper Jay Johnson.
In 2004, Tim battled prostate
cancer. After surgery, all tests now show him clear of the disease.
Barb, a two time breast cancer survivor, was crucial to his recovery.
The two remain committed to raising awareness about prevention and
For many years, Tim Johnson has been an active voice in the fight
for building a better future for all South Dakotans -- regardless
of gender, age, ethnicity, income or religion. From championing
fiscal responsibility to leading the charge on agricultural issues
to fighting for children, youth, and families, Tim's commitment
to creating positive change for all South Dakotans can clearly be
seen in his legislative achievements. Perhaps that's why, after
five terms in the House of Representatives, his 1996 election to
the U.S. Senate and reelection in 2002, Tim remains one of the most
popular public officials in South Dakota.
and the Johnson Family: (clockwise) Tim, Jana,
Sutton, Brooks, Brendan, Kelsey, Naida, and Barbara.