Daniel Austin Johnson, 61, of Madison, died on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at his home in Madison. He was born on August 25, 1960 in Madison, son of David N. and Patricia A. (Whalen) Johnson, and stepson of Anita E. Johnson.
Austin graduated from James Madison Memorial High School, then earned an Associate of Arts degree in Marketing from Madison College.
He was a senior executive at Larson Management for 32 years. Beginning his career as a bartender and waiter, he became General Manager of the first Madison TGI Fridays. Promoted to company staff with Larson, he served as Director of Brand Standards and Director of Operations for TGI Fridays Restaurants and Bars in Madison and the upper Midwest.
Austin later served as General Manager of Eno Vino Wine Bar and Bistro on the West Side of Madison. He led the creation of the company’s second location atop the Marriott AC hotel, their first general manager.
At his death, Austin was the butler and hospitality manager for the Heritage Tavern in Madison.
Well known, loved locally and well respected nationally, Austin was regarded as a subject matter expert in hotel leadership. He has been the mentor of a large number of people working in the hospitality industry.
Austin was a human person in all best ways, including the commission of high standards lending to influential results. With his good looks, shining blue eyes, graceful smile, and stylish clothes, he has brightened up a room and his attention to detail never falters. But it wasn’t just the admirable attributes of the outside that attracted us, it was his underlying charismatic personality, strong work ethic, quick wit, humor, generosity, gentleness, and acceptance.
Those with the memorable privilege of working for him will appreciate his hilariously (but heartfelt) frequently quoted quote “if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean up”; those who met him for the first time were the beneficiaries of his good hospitable nature and his best intentions; and those who are fortunate enough to call him family or friend find themselves with a heavy heart filled with gratitude for the countless memories that will have to sustain us as we move forward after this beautiful person leaves.
Austin’s passions included gardening, music, entertainment, and biking. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.
Survivors include stepmother Anita Johnson; siblings: Dianne Francis, Michael (Lisa) Johnson, Valerie (David) Martin, Patrick “Pappy” (Jackie) Johnson, Jeffrey (Robyn) Johnson, Bradford (Michele) Johnson, Andrew Johnson and David (Darci) Johnson; and nieces and nephews: Jeremy, Katy, Alec, Skylar, Nick, Hannah, Paxton, Jessica, Haley, Brandon, Brooke, Delaney, Adelyn and Everly. Austin is also survived by many aunts, uncles, extended family, longtime friends (Eric, Erik, Lesa, Mari and JR) and so many others too numerous to name but certainly not overlooked.
Austin was predeceased by parents David and Patricia, and other special relatives.
A Celebration of Austin’s Life will be held at the Wisconsin Historical Society, 816 State Street, Madison on December 16, 2021 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A tribute time will begin at 5.30 p.m. in the auditorium. Participants will be invited to share memories.
Instead of other expressions of sympathy, donations can be made to an organization Austin was passionate about: the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Dane County Lakes and Parks, or Wisconsin Public Television.
Photo courtesy of Nan Gardner
6021 University Madison Avenue
Posted by Cress Funeral & Cremation Service – Middleton University Chapel on December 7, 2021.