'Heart, soul' of NSW Labor dead at 87
Mr Johnson, a long-time stalwart of the ALP, served in the NSW upper house from 1978 to 1991 and won respect from all sides of politics.
Born in Murwillumbah in 1930, the trade union official entered parliament in 1976.
He was a staunch Catholic and made a papal knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great in 2006.
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday described Mr Johnson as "the heart, soul and sinews of NSW Labor".
"We have all lost a brother. Rest in Peace Johno Johnson," Mr Shorten tweeted.
NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley said Mr Johnson has been an "enduring presence in NSW Labor" for more than 60 years.
"Johno was a mentor, counsellor and confidante to half a dozen generations of Labor party activists," Mr Foley said in a statement.
"Through all of his life, he believed in, and worked for, the principle of the common good, the dignity of labour and the preferential option for the poor."
Former Labor luminary Johno Johnson dies
A funeral Mass for Johno Johnson will be at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, on 18 August, but details are still being finalised.
In a statement yesterday, Archbishop Fisher said, "Johno was a remarkable man who had a profound influence on all those he encountered".
"Inspired by the great loves of his life: the Catholic Church, the Australian Labor Party, his beloved wife Pauline and their family and, finally, his love for Australia, he made an outstanding contribution both to public life and the Church.Vale Johno Johnson, a 'fine Australian'
Former NSW MP Johno Johnson dead, aged 87
Memories of having chat about Cold River with Johno Johnson who predicted that Michael Egan would read the story too...