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Derek Brian Johnson

West Warwick, R.I.

There wasn't anything that Bob Johnson, Jr. didn't know about his brother. They lived thousands of miles apart, but Bob and Derek Brian Johnson talked on the phone four to five times a day.

"We talked about absolutely everything and anything," Bob said.

Sometimes, they talked about their jobs at Guardent Inc., a computer security company.

They talked about Derek's plans for Thursday night of last week. He wasn't a big fan of Great White, but was a fan of those "nights out with the guys."

They talked about plans for this weekend, too. Bob was to come from California to see a freestyle motocross show in Providence with Derek. Instead, Bob came early to Rhode Island to identify his brother's remains.

Derek grew up in New Jersey, attended high school in California, and returned to New Jersey to work in his father's electronics shop.

Eventually, he found his way back to California. When he wasn't working, he volunteered at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County. Derek spent three weeks finding the right dog for a terminally ill boy, and arranged for a sick child to meet basketball star Shaquille O'Neal. He moved back to the East Coast in September.

Michelle Knight, program manager at the foundation's Orange County branch, said Johnson was a calming presence and seemed to enjoy all aspects of the work.

"He was always willing to help out," she said. "If a little girl was into princess jewelry, he'd get down on the floor with her, and let her put a tiara on his head.''