After the death of his father and mother in the 1930s, Jay and his brother, Dan and sister, Ethel moved to Cheraw, South Carolina. In Cheraw, Jay and his sister and brother were raised by his Aunt Henrietta and Uncle Willie Johnson. Jay went to work at an early age and developed a hard work ethic that was to carry him for the rest of his life. In the 1940s as World War II shook the world, Jay ran away from home and joined the Navy. It was during his enlistment process that he adopted the name William James Johnson Sr. out of respect and love for the Aunt and Uncle who raised him. It was during his time in the Navy that he began to correspond with a beautiful young girl Gertrude Sims. Shortly after his discharge from the Navy, Jay ventured to New York to meet this young girl whom he had corresponded with during enlistment. They had never met, so as he approached the address from his letters, he saw a young lady outside whom he asked about Gertrude Sims, not knowing he was talking to the very young lady he was asking about. After a brief courtship, he and Gertrude fell in love and eventually married on April 12, 1947. From that union they had three children, Carolin, William (Bubble) and Marian.
William and Gertrude learned Jehovah’s truth’s from Sister Young and fully embraced that truth and were baptized in 1957. The wonderful truths they learned they shared with others; they also taught and embedded those truths in their three children, who in turn shared those same truths with others down to this day. Jay fully embraced his assignment and served as an Assistant Congregation Servant and a Ministerial Servant. But what he enjoyed most was the house to house ministry; it was while engaging in that ministry that Jay passed away on March 2, 2013. Through his efforts and those of his wife they were able to help others dedicate their lives to Jehovah God.
William and Gertrude had affectionate names for each other, Trudy or Butch for mom and Jimmy for Dad. They were well loved by the friends in their former congregation in Philadelphia (Ellsworth). Their home was always open to anyone and was well known for big breakfasts, featuring Mom’s famous biscuits and syrup on Saturday morning. They were loved by all and everyone felt welcomed coming into their home. Bill Sr. will also be missed by the loving friends in the Carrollton North Congregation. They moved here as a stranger, but were welcomed as a dear friend. His strength and determination were a source of encouragement in the last years of his life. There were many goods times, friends who loved to play pinochle and there were often fierce battles to rub someone’s head. He was a fierce fisherman and enjoyed fishing in the ocean and also the Great Lakes. Another of Dad’s favorite pastimes was playing checkers, I can remember many a Saturday or Sunday afternoon that he and brother March would engage in a fierce game of checkers. There was a lot of talking, joking and teasing but it was all in fun and they were ready to play again the following week.
Proverbs 10:7 states that: “The remembrance of the righteous ones is due for a blessing”. William J. Johnson Sr. loved Jehovah and tried always to stay close to Jehovah and the Christian Congregation. His life was one devoted to Jehovah’s service, even though sickness and disabilities limited the amount he could do, he never lost his love and devotion to Jehovah. He relied on him for strength and renewal. He firmly believed in John 5:28 and 29. He is resting now and waiting for the call, his belief in the resurrection was firm, and he will not be disappointed.
William J. Johnson Sr. leaves behind a host of family and friends who will mourn his passing, a sister, Ethel McIntosh; a brother, Dan McIntosh; his daughter Carolin Hill (and son-in-law James); his son, William J. Johnson Jr. (and daughter-in-law Sharon); his daughter Marian Cobia (and his son-in-law Barry). He had eight grandchildren, some who have preceded him in death: Ibn Shafi, Gamal Shafi (deceased), David Johnson (deceased), JoAyn Hill, Lynette Johnson, Barry Jon Cobia (deceased), Anea Cobia, and Katrina Cobia. He also has five great-grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews and a host of dear friends. He was preceded in death by his wife, Gertrude Johnson and many of his brothers and sisters.
Memorial services for Mr. Johnson will be conducted Friday, March 8, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
From a Son to His Father
We Fought, We Loved, We Won_
Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at www.martin-hightower.com.
Martin & Hightower Heritage Chapel, Carrollton.