Jack M. Johnson was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, on August 18th, 1923, to Cedric Raymond Johnson and Letha Loraine Hutton Johnson, the middle child of three boys: Cedric Rodman Johnson, Jack M. Johnson, and Charles Allen Johnson.
Lawton was Jack’s hometown and his father was from the prominent Johnson family who owned the successful Johnson Ice Cream and Dairy there in downtown Lawton. His father was a well-known chiropractor in Lawton, but his career was cut short when he developed cancer and died at the age of 46 leaving his wife, Letha, to care for their three sons. Letha did this admirably by becoming a private- duty nurse and caring for the children of prominent Lawton families and also by building on a nice apartment addition to the family home with a separate entrance and exit and renting this apartment out to soldiers wanting to live off-base but yet close to Ft. Sill.
Jack graduated from Lawton High School before entering the military service; he served in World War II in the Navy Seabees overseas in the Philippines the island of Leyte. He belonged to the Construction Battalion as a engineer and did his part designing and constructing the Navy buildings and air strips on the island, as well as service in the mechanics division and maintaining the division’s aircraft and motor pool.
He was discharged honorably from the Navy and attended Cameron College in Lawton on the G.I. Bill where he double majored in photography and mechanical engineering. As a study break each day, Jack stopped by his family’s Johnson Ice Cream and Dairy to sit in the booths and occasionally enjoy a chocolate malt but his main objective was to have an excuse to strike up a conversation with the attractive brunette behind the ice cream counter, Billie Jean Melot. They married on Valentine’s Day.
When they decided to start their family, they were delighted to welcome their first-born son, Jack Graham, into the world; then not a year later, they welcomed a preemie, Jill Lorraine, who weighed in at only 2 Ib. 2 Oz. and she not only survived but thrived, happy to be added to this family of three. Jack transferred to engineering and moved the family to Norman where he graduated from the University of Oklahoma and took a job and moved the family to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where their younger son, Lincoln, was born. Then Jack got a job offer he couldn’t refuse which moved the family back to Oklahoma where they settled a home in the idyllic Woodlands addition of Tulsa which was home to a neighborhood of up and coming young professionals and their families and the Johnson kids started school at McClure Elementary just up the hill.
A few years, later, however, Jack was offered a better position and better salary by a new company headquartered in Norman, Oklahoma: Aero Commander. Jack was delighted at the prospect of moving back to his alma mater and excited about the challenge of a higher position and salary and once more the family moved and bought a home in Norman where he enjoyed the majority of his career as an aeronautical and design engineer working on the Jet Commander. The Johnson kids completed their grade school and middle school years at Jackson Elementary and West Junior High, and it was during these years that the youngest daughter, Sarah Beth, was born. Sarah Beth was only three years old when Jack began the first of his preparations to fulfill his lifelong dream of owning land as a gentleman farmer and moved the family once again to 30 acres between Norman and Lexington where he had the family’s dream home built. At one time or another Jack raised pigs, chickens, geese, rabbits, bought a Shetland pony for Sarah Beth, and over the years owned many generations of cats, not to mention dogs of all sizes and breeds, from the smallest Pekingese and midsize whippet to the largest Collie.
The kids grew up, got married and had kids of their own and the farm invited generations of Johnson offspring home for Thanksgiving and Christmas with mom at the helm for the holiday feasts, welcoming her brothers and sisters from Illinois and California and with dad supervising the outdoor activities complete with target shoots and pollywog hunting for the guys including dad’s own brothers from Lawton.
Then mom got the devastating diagnosis of lung cancer and succumbed to its 8 months later in March of 2010; it was very hard on Dad. He missed mom so much but tried to fill his time with projects and so was generous with his time and money to complete any project you asked of him. He was no stranger to building things; he had built the farm’s free- standing garage and attached laundry room from the ground up and built a series of rabbit hutches and sheds for the various animals and even solar collectors and now was helping his kids remodel their homes and completing repair projects such as installing new water heaters and laying down new tile flooring. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t build and if he didn’t have a special tool to complete a project, he’d design and make one.
It wasn’t until dad was in his mid-80’s that he was forced to slow down, and he was still sharp as a tack; in fact, he would often be seen with a physics book in his hands for a little light reading. It was not until his early 90’s that his health began to deteriorate and suffered a stroke which landed him in the hospital and then nursing rehab facility and then his final stay at Hospice Quality Care in Midwest City where dad died on June 3rd, 2019.
Many sincere thanks to the people who cared for dad, to Virgie at Purcell Municipal, to Rachel and Cody who took care of getting him the meals he liked so well at Brookhaven Skilled Nursing, and a special thanks to Hospice Quality Care in Midwest City for their tender, loving care of our dad until the end, Reggi, D’Lena, Dana, Pat, Patty, Matt, Chaplain Harriett Lee and all the other staff behind the scenes. If I’ve forgotten anybody, my sincere apologies.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents Cedric & Letha Johnson, his 2 brothers, C. Rodman Johnson and Charles Allen Johnson, his eldest son, Jack G. Johnson, his wife of 63 years Billie Jean Melot Johnson, his youngest daughter Sarah Beth Johnson, and his great-grandson Ian Haraughty. He is survived by his eldest daughter, Jill L. Johnson Morgan and his youngest son, Lincoln A. Johnson, four grandchildren, Erin Elizabeth Morgan, Matthew J. Morgan, Stacy M. Johnson Zimmerman, and Sarah Lynda Johnson. Goodbye dad, we will miss you always, you built our lives.
Cremation took place at OK Cremation & Funeral Home in Oklahoma City; no funeral services are slated but an on-line memoriam will be set up at forevermissed.com. Condolences are welcomed.
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