Obituary, James Cornelius Johnson

James Cornelius Johnson December 2, 1921 June 16, 2013 James Cornelius Johnson, world’s best dad, died on Father’s Day, June 16, 2013 supported by family and caring staff of Buckner Villas Nursing Home. Jim, known affectionately as “Uncle Toot”, was born at home in Houston, Missouri, the fourth of seven children. The Johnson farmstead in Licking, Missouri remained a cherished family gathering spot through the early 1980s, with Grandma Johnson at the helm. Jim shared the country rhythms he knew and loved with his children-digging in the compost for worms, pole fishing in the back pond, hunting quail, picking wild dewberries, saddling up Tex the pony, tubing down Boiling Springs. Jim received his chemical engineering degree from Rolla School of Mines in 1943. After graduation, he worked for Monsanto Chemical Company and then enlisted in the US Navy to fight in World War II. He served on navy vessels LST 783, LSM 238, and the aircraft carrier USS Franklin (Big Ben), working as a navigator, gunnery officer, and commanding officer. On March 19, 1945 the carrier was engaged in a strike in Kobe Harbor, Japan when hit by enemy fire. Jim received a medal for his actions, as described by his admiral: “In the face of continuing explosions and raging fires and during further enemy air attacks he continued to fight fires, jettison hot ammunition, and otherwise courageously assist in bringing the damage under control. His courage, loyalty, and devotion to duty contributed materially to the saving of the ship and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” Jim was hit by a beautiful WAVE, Shirley Pauline Gedrow. She became the love of his life and the two were married for 62 years prior to her death in 2009. Together, they were active in the Methodist church, played bridge, and traveled to visit friends and family. Jim and Pauli were especially connected to their grandson, Jonathan Jokerst, who they helped raise. After the war, Jim rejoined Monsanto and enjoyed a long career, working as a plant manager at facilities in Missouri, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, and Texas. Jim is survived by two siblings, the Rev. Robert Johnson and Nina Mae Welch, two daughters-Emmy Holman and Paula Munson, four grandchildren-Dorion Liston, Marney Liston, Shayna Cram, and Jonathan Jokerst, and two great-granddaughters-Lilly Liston and Juniper Liston. Jim had an even temperament, a strong listening presence, and a wry sense of humor. He was always patient, always kind, and incapable of harsh words, judgment or criticism of others. By example, he set a high standard for how we all might better live our lives. A private service will be held at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a donation to the USO for servicemen and women or Buckner Hospice.


Published in Austin American-Statesman on June 30, 2013
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