Richard Charles Johnson, of Wayne, Michigan, was born in Evansville, Indiana (Vanderburgh County) on October 28, 1924 to Theodore and Jessie Johnson. He passed on July 5, 2013 in Redford, Michigan at the age of 88.
Dick was the beloved husband of Joanne Gertrude (Wallace) Johnson for 60 years. Loving father of Richard C. Johnson Jr., Elizabeth Anne Johnson, James Robert Johnson, and Marianne Mayer. Dear grandpa of 3 grandsons and 3 granddaughters.
Dick was a graduate of Wayne High School. He was a decorated WWII Army Veteran, Rainbow Division who was wounded in service. Later, Dick attended Michigan State University receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Ornamental Horticulture. He worked for the State of Michigan Department of Agriculture, Wayne County Road Commission and Washtenaw Community College. Dick and his wife Joanne were long time members of First United Methodist Church of Wayne.
Richard's life will be celebrated with a memorial service at First United Methodist Church of Wayne on Saturday August 17, 2013 at 11:00 am. Officiating the service, Pastor Alice Sheffield and Paul Cook.
Thoughts about Dad (Richard C. Johnson) from his Children -
My Dad was the best person I have ever known. He was dedicated, supportive, loving, fair, patient and honest. He had learned and experience a great deal in his life and was always willing to lend a helping hand or teach what he knew. He worked long and hard at his job as an inspector for the Wayne County Road Commission. However, he always made time to attend band and orchestra concerts, school plays and support the Boy Scotts camping trips (when other parents were too busy). Today when I witness children misbehaving to their parents, I always tell friends, "There was never any question of the Johnson kids acting like that". It was not that Dad was overly strict, or disciplined us, it was just something that was understood. Even at a young age, I think we all knew we had something special.
There was one important experience that my Father never spoke of; that was his time spent in the Army during WWII. There were only two rules in the Johnson household, as I recall, both were related to the television set. We were not allowed to watch war movies or Lucile Ball. (I'm not sure how Lucy fits into this story). I was a little surprised recently, when Rick mentioned that my Dad was not active as a Veteran. I can only imagine that Rick's comment was in response to the "no War movie" rule. Unfortunately, it has only been in the last few years that Dad has begun sharing some of his experiences from the War. There was no doubt that my Dad was affected by his time in Europe during the war. So much so, in fact, that he and my Mother had to call short a trip to France years ago, because Dad began to experience Battle "Flash backs", more than 30 years after the fact. Dad was a decorated and proud member of the Armed forces during WWII. He was proud to serve his country, along with each of his five brothers! Although, I am sure he had difficulties accepting the realities of War.
Dad was loyal and loved unconditionally; he was a gentle and peaceful man. He formed friendships easily and invested in them. One example was a coffee group he enjoyed for many years, made up of old and new friends in Wayne. Dad's love language was quality time. He made the most of opportunities to spend time with each of his children. He spent time in scouting with Rick and Jim. He took two special trips to Isle Royal with Jim. He spent time wood carving birds with Marianne. He enjoyed attending races at Waterford and supporting Rick's new racing hobby. He flew to California to drive with me, as I moved to West Virginia, when I was 8 months pregnant with my first daughter. He and I would go out to lunch on the occasion of his birthday for many years. There are so many things, that so many people have learned from my Father: respect and enjoyment of nature, how to plant a tree properly, how to best treat a newly poured concrete garage floor, how to build a wall, and many aspects of photography.
Dad was not a nagger but he made it clear that he expected us to be honest and to do the right thing. He very much followed the saying "a job worth doing, is a job worth doing well". He set the example by his own behavior. He did not hesitate to confront us when we were wrong or jealous of our siblings. I remember him confronting me about "green eyed jealously" when I complained about something. Yet Dad did not try to control us. If we made decisions with which he disagreed, he let us experience the consequences of our actions, though I am sure he wished he could have saved us the pain. He was wise enough to know we could only learn from our own mistakes.
When we were all still young and at home Mom & Dad asked us children if we would rather have a cottage and spend vacations in one spot; or, if we would rather have the opportunity to travel to see different parts of the country. As a result of that question, Dad took on the added responsibility of maintaining and driving a truck mounted camper. We traveled through many states on family vacations to Vermont and New England, Washington D.C., Upper Michigan, Canada, and North & South Dakota. He showed us the world on four truck wheels and then when it was time to go home he would drive many hours, straight home, to sleep in his own bed.
Dad was a hard-working and courageous man. He did not give up easily or quit when the going was tough. He fought back from many medical issues and surgeries to get back on his feet and rarely complained about pain. Dad was affectionate and showed love. He did not withdraw or isolate. Dad was a good example of a loving father.
Above all else Dad was dedicated to our Mother. The love and devotion our parents showed for each other could never be questioned by anyone who knew them. On one of the last vacations Jim was able to take with them, they had stopped at a Visitor Center that included an art shop and restaurant. As they sat and ate their lunch a complete stranger approached the table. The woman said "please excuse my interruption, but I wanted to tell you, that the love you have for one another is beautiful and obvious even from across the room to a total stranger". For 60 years Dad was a devoted husband to our Mother. Together they have set an example of making marriage work well.
Dad was very creative, and he had many hobbies. Dad was not afraid to try new techniques and learn new things. He took courses at the local community college to learn how to throw pottery and glaze it. He took photography classes and spent many hours in the dark room developing and printing his photos. Eventually Dad taught classes in photography at the same local community college. He took computer classes and became an accomplished user of Apple computers. On the computer he wrote a book of his remembrances to give to his grandchildren. He took up wood working and carved birds, bowls and made pens. One of his pleasures was to give away the pens he made to friends, acquaintances and too many Doctors.
I remember Dad being an active participant in the Open Door Sunday school class where he talked about his faith and how he saw the world.
When I asked Dad if he knew what Jesus had done for us and how we go to heaven, he knew that Jesus died to pay the debt for our sins, in full, so that we could have an unburdened relationship with God and live in heaven when our earthly bodies were too tired to go on.
I am sure that Dad is in heaven. Meeting up with his old buddies like Bud Stein, Glen Eschtruth and his parents and siblings. I look forward to the day that I will see him again vigorous and whole and able to show us around his new home.