OBIT - Pastor J.D. Johnson

Pastor Johnny Durant Johnson was born Aug. 13, 1921 in Evanston, Ill. to the late Mary Phoebe Moten-Johnson and James Preston Johnson. He was the 13th of 14 children born to that union. J.D. or “Little Squat” as he was known by friends, excelled in athletics, especially boxing. Over the course of his long life he had many careers which included licensed barber/beautician, educator, a golden glove professional boxer, minister and missionary.

He attended J. C. Corban College Preparatory High School at Pine Bluff where he met the “love of his life”, the former Ida Clemmons of Almyra Ark. In 1942, he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, laid down his boxing gloves and picked up his Bible. That same year he married his soul mate on March 19th; a bond that endued for nearly 69 years. After 23 years of marriage and much prayer, to their union was born one daughter, Afriyie Johnson.

He was drafted into the US Army during World War II, where he served as a medic. Due to his religious convictions he chose to be a non-combatant. Upon his return from military service he enrolled at Andrews University where he earned a BA in Education. He remained in Chicago to teach a Shiloh Academy while pursuing an MA from the University of Illinois. Upon his receipt of his MA he received a call to mission work in West Africa. As a life long learner, he continued to study; attaining a Masters of Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry.

Over the course of the next 28 years Johnny and Ida Johnson served in the mission field first in Liberia, then Ghana and finally ending in Nigeria. During those years he was able to build numerous churches and schools, create medical missionary programs and hold evangelistic services in various villages. In 1986 he retired, but continued his missionary work, giving Bible studies and doing his DVD mailing ministry. Even the day before he fell asleep to await the resurrection, he edified and witnessed of the Greatness of God to everyone who would listen or who came to visit. The gospel of Jesus Christ was his hearts joy.

As the patriarch of both his immediate and extended family he leaves to cherish his memory his beloved wife Ida Johnson, his daughter Afriyie Johnson, sister Mary Lang, nephew William Burns III, along with a host of nieces and nephews. He also leaves a host of friends and family both near and far. He was preceded in death by his siblings James Johnson, Howard Johnson, Calio Johnson, Charlie Johnson, LaVaughn Robinson, Clifford Johnson, Mary L. Johnson, Esther Burns, Arthur Johnson, Cleo Bowman, Ruth Nash and Astor Johnson.

Services for J. D. were Sunday March 6, 2011, 1 p. m. at Verdun Funeral Home in Baldwin.

Interment will take place in the spring at Cherry Valley cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to Verdun Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Baldwin (231) 745-4680.