John Richard Johnson beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, cousin, in-law and friend to many, was born October 1932 in Columbia, Kentucky, to Neil Graves and Leslie Johnson. He was the sixth of nine siblings. John Richard was educated at Dudley School in Columbia. He accepted Christ at an early age. He grew up helping his grandma and relatives, who were sharecroppers. He played marbles and he liked to rabbit hunt with his siblings and cousins, in the backwoods of Columbia.
John Richard was summoned to his heavenly home to be with the Lord on July 30, 2020, at the age of eighty-seven. He passed away peacefully, with family by his side, at Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, after a long illness.
John Richard was a man of action rather than words. He was hard-working, passionate, mild-mannered, very reserved, genuine, forward-thinking, and trustworthy. He proved it in the way he chose to live his life.
On September 20, 1952, John Richard was united in marriage to Margaret Savannah Johnson. They were happily married for 67 years, and to this union they were blessed with two sons and a baby daughter. He raised his family in Louisville. He attended Old Shepherdsville Road Church of Christ; often inviting, his Pastor, Reverend Daniels into his home.
He was meticulous about his home, cars, and his loved ones. He kept a well-manicured lawn: planting, pruning, sowing seeds, and growing grapes. His favorite car was Lincoln Continental: Mark V, Mark IV Designer Series Editions, Mark VI, reluctant to drive his luxury cars except on Sundays, holidays, or special occasions. In addition, he always bought a classy lady’s car for his wife, Mercury Cougar or the likes. Often, on special occasions or sometimes during his family vacation he would drive a Diamond Jubilee Edition, or the most recent Ford Limited Edition, for pure pleasure and enjoyment! Carefully choosing his words, he would say, ” The Man over Ford… let me bring it home for a while”. He would talk the about specifications and the quality that went into building the car. He had so many relatives working for Ford, he would point out how a car was built and who worked on what parts. He would say, William did the paint, James did the seats, Donald put in the dashboard, and on down the line.
His hobbies were bowling, landscaping, cooking, and singing gospel hymns and country music. Some of his favorite singers were Mahalia Jackson- My God is Real, Reverend James Cleveland & The Mississippi Mass Choir- Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus, Lord Help Me to Hold Out, and Lord Do It, Shirley Caesar- No Charge, echoed through his home. Speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X, were recited. He was a realist.
In the 70’s, he was the family’s Emeril or Guy Fieri! He made his smoker, and he made hickory and mesquite wood chips. He hauled his mobile grill around town selling barbeque or catering parties, wearing a chef jacket and hat. His family did the tasting, and he perfected his recipes: dirty rice, jambalaya, smoked brisket, turkey, chicken, ribs, pulled pork, and more! He lured you in by simply saying, Taste it. Then, he would say, Taste some more. The big question would follow, What’d ya think? That was his concept to business.
John Richard retired from Ford Motor Company after forty years of service. He left with a roster of family members and friends that he helped gain employment.
Along his way, he dabbled in entrepreneurship and planted the seeds of black- business ownership. His children worked in his businesses, his nieces, nephews, and cousins learned accounting and record-keeping, business and operational skills. He opened and operated M&J Market and Blues Market. John Richard’s momentum and ambitions was unstoppable!
His second business venture was rooted in his love for cooking, Bon Appetit. A French term that he spun on Soul Food! With the sweat of his brow he took his business to the black community offering excellent food; and jobs. He was confident.
Years later, John Richard would trade it all for tractors, acreage, limited broadband internet, and no interstate access. He liked peaceful living and he loved the country.
His grandiose plan was to offer an alternative way of living, and he wanted to go back to basics. He laid the foundation, and operated a dairy farm, which he registered it as Green Acres. He farmed along side his cousin, Foster Graves. John carefully selected Jersey and Holstein Cattle Breeds. His idea to provide dairy milk to the community was his goal. He teamed up with Carnation Milk to close the deal. He was genius.
John Richard’s visions, determination and unlimited abilities would reap him the harvest of success and fulfillment. He believed that God was his salvation.
John Richard was preceded in death by his daughter, Virginia Ann Johnson, his parents Neil Graves and Leslie Johnson, 3 Sisters: Louise Johnson, Elizabeth Bell, Francis Lindsey. 4 Brothers: Twyman Johnson, William Foster, George Hawkins, Terry Johnson.
Left to cherish his memories are his wife, Margaret Johnson, two sons and their spouses, Clifford Joseph and Delores Johnson, Richard Lee and Deborah Johnson.
4 grandchildren: Bertina Johnson, Chad and Mary Johnson, Dawn Johnson, Monique Johnson
10 great-grandchildren: Dante Johnson, Amaria Johnson, Isaish Johnson, Ty’Ray Johnson, Alycea Alexander, Daylon Johnson, Avree Johnson, Raven Johnson, Scarlett Johnson, Sean Wright
His life will be celebrated with a service on Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 1:00 P.M. at the Dudley Cemetery in Adair County.
Grissom-Martin Funeral Home is assisting the family.