Bill Johnson was born in Lansing, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University where he studied Landscape Architecture. After serving in the military, he completed a his graduate work at Harvard's School of Design. He later formed Johnson, Johnson and Roy with his brothers Carl and Clarence Roy, in which the core focus within each project became fitness, harmony, and community involvement. Later in his career, Bill also served as a professor and Dean of the School of Natural Resources at U of M.