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Montana Political Journalist Dies

Charles S. “Chuck” Johnson, one of the state’s longest-serving statehouse journalists and widely known as the “dean of Montana political reporters,” died unexpectedly at his home in Helena on Saturday, March 4.

Johnson reported on Montana politics and government for Montana’s largest newspapers and wire services for 45 years before his retirement in 2017. During the course of his career, Johnson covered 22 legislative sessions, eight governors, nine U.S. senators, and 12 U.S. representatives, earning a reputation as a factual and fair journalist whose reporting was infused with a sense of history and institutional knowledge that gave readers a broad perspective on the most significant issues of the day.

Johnson’s wife, Pat Hunt, said her husband was beloved throughout Montana and his loss will be felt across the state.

Johnson was born in 1948 in Great Falls, and was the oldest of four siblings. Johnson’s family moved to Helena when he was a year and a half old. He started his journalism career early, working for the Helena High School student newspaper.

Johnson later attended college at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he studied journalism.

As a young reporter still attending UM, Johnson’s first big story was covering the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention for the Associated Press. His daily dispatches to the AP are among the most comprehensive day-to-day accounts of that historic event, affectionately nicknamed the “Con Con.”

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