Obituary for Howard Johnson Sr.
Mr. W. Howard Johnson, “Papa,” age 91, passed away peacefully at Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, Florida, on April 12, 2018.
Mr. Johnson was born in Red Oak, Florida, on October 30, 1926, the youngest of the eight children of Dollie Linton Johnson and Monroe Johnson.
He served in the United States Merchant Marines during World War II, providing fuel in both the Pacific and European Theaters, and later served in occupation forces in the United States Army on the Pacific Island of Saipan. In 2014 he returned to the island to speak at the 70th Commemoration of The Battle of Saipan along with other U. S. Veterans and Japanese Veterans.
After leaving the military, he attended barber school in Jacksonville, Florida, and worked as a barber in the following years to put himself and his wife Jeanette through college. He later established the first barber shop in Clarksville, Florida, which is now one of the historical buildings displayed at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown. He continued to cut hair on a part time basis for many years for customers and for home bound, hospital, and nursing home patients into the last months of his life.
He attended Chipola Jr. College and Florida State University earning his bachelor’s degree in education. He and Jeanette later attended George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated with master’s degrees.
He taught in the Calhoun County School System for thirty-six and one half years, serving as a classroom teacher, Principal of Carr School, Supervisor of Elementary Education, and General Supervisor. He was elected as Superintendent of Public Instruction for Calhoun County Schools and served in that capacity for 20 years. He was known statewide for his leadership in providing a high level education to students with the most efficient cost basis. Under his guidance, new buildings for Blountstown Elementary School and Blountstown High School and additional classrooms for Altha School were constructed and paid for in full. Additionally, he led in the renovation of the old high school gymnasium at the Blountstown High School into a state of the art auditorium and was instrumental in securing funding from the Neal Trust for the construction of the high school’s music building. He served a key role in establishing the Panhandle Area Education Consortium, which provides numerous services to small and rural school districts. When he retired in 1988, he left the Calhoun County Schools with over five million dollars in cash reserve to be invested for future needs.
He lived a life of service to his family and community, always giving of himself to others above his own needs. In all of his dealings with people, he went above what was required to ensure fairness to all those involved. He was a member of the Poplar Head Baptist Church and later the First Baptist Church of Blountstown where he faithfully served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and choir member. He was involved in all aspects of ministry and rarely missed a service, many times driving back on Sunday morning from out of town to attend. He taught a Bible study for residents at the Blountstown Health and Rehabilitation Center for a year and a half in his late eighties. He cared for numerous family members in illness, including his wife. He had a God-given gift for ministering to the sick and bereaved. He also served as mentor to many individuals and couples in financial planning. He was a member of the Blountstown Lions Club, the Masons, and the Shriners, where he worked diligently to raise funds for the care of children with burn injuries and disabilities. He was a member of the Woodmen of the World and served as president of the state jurisdiction for one year, always promoting love of God and obedience to His Word and love of country in his state and community. He was instrumental in establishing a statewide scholarship program for children of Woodmen members. He served a term as president of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce. Further, he organized and attained tax exempt status for The Pippin Family Cemetery Corporation, which is an endowed family cemetery, and led the Board of Directors in its management and maintenance.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette Johnson; parents, Dollie and Monroe Johnson; his son-in-law Joe Van Lierop; his brothers Mallie Johnson (Melba), Bonnie Johnson (Myrtice), and Bobbie Johnson; his sisters Verlie Suggs (Emmanuel), Versie Attaway (Ralph), Hazel Owens (Chris), and Bertie Johnson; his father and mother-in-law, Walter and Chrystelle Nichols; and brothers-in-law Henry Nichols (Linda) and Ellis Nichols.
He is survived by his daughter, Deborah Van Lierop of Blountstown; his son, Howard Johnson, Jr. also of Blountstown; three grandchildren and their spouses, Johann and Kiersten Van Lierop of Jacksonville, Florida, Jon and Johanna Plummer of Blountstown, Florida, and Josh and Lauren Pasqualone of Tallahassee, Florida; five grandchildren, Ellisa and Jace Van Lierop, Gus and Pearl Plummer, and Penelope Pasqualone; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, C. W. and Joyce Mauldin of Panama City; sister-in-law Betty Nichols of the Carr Community; a host of loving nieces and nephews, including Jimmy Suggs, who is like a brother to him; and other extended family and friends.
Funeral services will be held Sunday, April 15, 2018, at 3 p.m. CDT at First Baptist Church Blountstown. Interment will follow at Poplar Head Cemetery in Clarksville. The family will receive visitors Saturday, April 14 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. CDT at Adams Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Howard Johnson Memorial Fund in care of The Hartford Firm Trust Account, 20735 Central Avenue East, Blountstown, Florida, 32424.