Owensboro Community Mourns the Loss of Horse Johnson [PHOTOS]
James G. "Horse" Johnson spent many years volunteering for WBKR Christmas Wish, the Daviess County Lion's Club, and St. Vincent de Paul. Today, we pay tribute to this giving man.
I received a text from Sally Davenport, the former long-time Director of Christmas Wish. She wanted to be sure that I was aware that Horse Johnson had passed away. Sally said,"Horse was a dedicated Christmas Wish volunteer from the very beginning. He put in so many heartfelt hours." She went on to add, "He was a very good man." The family has requested that memorial contributions be donated to Christmas Wish in his honor. Close to $1,500 has already been raised in his name this week. We are eternally grateful.
This was before my time at Christmas Wish, so I wanted to learn more about this special man that is loved by so many.
Not only did Horse have a charitable heart, but he LOVED his beautiful family. He was devoted to his wife, Joan. They were married for 58 years. We need to say a special prayer for Joan, as I'm sure this is a very difficult time and adjustment for her.
The family is struggling to comprehend the loss. I had the chance to speak with his only son, Todd. He wanted us to know what his Dad meant to him. "Dad was my best friend, best man and dad. I will miss him." Todd went on to add, "Dad had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone."
Todd is so proud of his Dad and how much he gave back to the community that he loved so much. "Dad was involved in the 1st Annual Owensboro International Bar- B- Q festival with Bell South Telephone workers. His cooking team were back to back Governor's Cup Grand Champions and Dad was the chairman of the Telephone Workers Cooking Team."
He went on to share, "Dad cooked thousands of BBQ chickens for various charities around town. He also cooked hams, for several years, for the Brescia College Alumni scholarship fund during Christmas. He just couldn't ever say no to anyone that asked him to cook."
Not only is Horse a great family man, charitable, but was a great athlete. Todd shared a little about this with me. "Dad was a big fan of Owensboro Catholic High School Football and was inducted into the first class of the OCHS Football Hall of Fame, several years ago, during halftime of Aces football game."
I also had the chance to talk with one of his daughters, so I could find out more about Horse. With tears in her eyes, Robin Morgan shared some memories about her Dad with us.
After hearing so many kind words about Horse, I really wanted to know more about his spirit. What should we know about him?
Here's what Robin had to say, "No matter where we went with Dad, even out of town and on vacation, Dad would find someone to talk to. He was just so kindhearted and loved people so much. If we went shopping, Dad always came along and never complained. We could take as long as we wanted, and of course, we'd come out to find Dad talking to some stranger on a bench. He just had that way. It was easy for him to reach out and touch so many."
She said that her Dad just had this way about him. He was so all in when it came to people, friendships and family. He'd meet someone once and remember their name, relatives and stories, when he saw them again years later.
Horse lost his Mom when he was just 10 years-old and it helped shape him to be the person he was throughout his life. He took care of his baby brother, Lewis, who was only 7 years-old at the time that she passed. He was his best friend. Much later in life, his baby brother cared for Horse and helped him work through his medical issues. Lewis would just lay his hands on him and pray for comfort. In December of 2017, Horse would lose his baby brother and Robin said it changed him. He never was quite the same, she added. They just had that bond. I hope that the family can take comfort in knowing that they're both together again, celebrating seeing their Mom after so many years. Can you imagine that grand reunion!
I wanted to hear more about his time spent with family and grandchildren, especially around the holidays. I could hear the joy in Robin's voice when she recalled some of her favorite memories.
"My Dad enjoyed Christmas the most with the family", Robin recalled. "He would love to have his family around him and soak it all in. He loved and adored his grandchildren very much. In the mid-90's, he just couldn't wait to pick them up from school, and go for ice cream to make those special memories".
I hoped that Robin would have recollection of her Dad's work with Christmas Wish, as I wished that I'd have known him. I was glad she did!
"My Dad loved Christmas Wish, she said. He would go into the office early and stay until it closed every day. He loved reading the letters, making deliveries and helping others." Robin also added, "At the end of the CW season each year, Dad would come home and spend days of quiet reflection. He just loved Christmas Wish."
Our thoughts and prayers are with this beautiful family during this difficult time. We thank you for sharing your Dad with us. What a wonderful man he was!
James G. "Horse" Johnson, 84, of Owensboro, passed away Tuesday morning, March 26, 2019 under the care of Hospice of Western Kentucky. He was born November 5, 1934 to the late James J. Johnson and Martha Elnora Johnson. Horse was a veteran of the U.S. Army and worked for Bell South for 39 years as a cable repairman, splicer, and lineman.
He was a member of Immaculate Catholic Church, a former member of St. Martin Catholic Church and long-time member of the Knights of Columbus. Horse was also a proud union member of the Communication Workers of America and member of the Telephone Pioneers. He enjoyed OCHS Football, UK Basketball, spending time with family and friends and doing charity work, especially cooking thousands of BBQ chickens for numerous charities. Horse was captain of the Telephone Workers Cooking Team that was named Governor's Cup Grand Champions in both the 1986 and 1987 International Bar-B-Q Festivals. He also spent many years volunteering for the Telephone Worker's Christmas Wish, Daviess County Lion's Club, and St. Vincent de Paul. Horse's sense of humor and kind heart brought joy to all who knew him, and he will be deeply missed.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Mary Eleanor Kurz; brothers, Robert L. Johnson and E. Louis Johnson; and a granddaughter, Paige McKinlie Isaacs.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years Joan Johnson; a son, Todd (Kathleen) Johnson of Owensboro; daughters, Robin (Todd) Morgan of Utica, Carla (Mitch) Ellison of Newburgh and Carrie (James) Isaacs of Lexington; grandchildren, Matthew Johnson, Sara (Matt) Lisby, Hope Johnson, Blake Morgan, Ashley Morgan, Jessica Ellison, Lukas Ellison, Will Ellison, Quincy Isaacs and Conner Isaacs; five great-grandchildren; and brothers, Donald J. Johnson of Owensboro and William V. "Bill" Johnson and his wife Diane of Northbrook, IL.
The Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 AM, Friday, March 29 at Immaculate Catholic Church. Visitation on Thursday will be from 4:00 until 8:00 PM, with prayers at 7:00, at Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory. Visitation on Friday will be at Immaculate Catholic Church from 10:00 until 11:00 AM.
Private entombment will be at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.
Expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to Christmas Wish, 3301 Frederica St. Owensboro, KY 42301.
Memories and condolences for the family of James G. "Horse" Johnson may be shared at www.glenncares.com.