Gary D. Johnson, 59, of Kennedy, N.Y., lost his courageous and hard-fought battle with cancer on January 19th. He passed away peacefully and pain-free in his home, hand-in-hand with the love of his life, best friend, and wife of 33 years, Gail Johnson.
He was born on July 2, 1954, in Jamestown, N.Y., the son of Edward "Vern" Johnson and the late Eleanor Stebbins Johnson.
Gary spent much of his childhood in Ellington, N.Y., and graduated from Falconer High School in 1972. The young Gary was the lead drummer in his family's legendary band "The Versatiles", and played his signature "Wipeout" solo for his fans.
He was a freelancer who worked for any employer that would give him a challenge. His jobs included; manufacturing milk, electronic engineer, forklift driver, salesman, project manager, chauffeur for the disabled, floor sweeper, supervisor, factory worker, manager, truck driver, and vending machine repairman. There was no job too large or small for his indomitable work ethic.
Gary's largest focus was not in the workplace but with his family. He met Gail one fateful night, and they married shortly thereafter on July 4th, 1980 because "he wanted annual fireworks to celebrate his undying love for her." Over the years he enjoyed grilling a variety of foods and preparing many of his favorite dishes like spaghetti and beef stroganoff for his entire family which kept the final promise he made to his mom. One of his biggest personal achievements came when he purchased 7 heavily-wooded acres in Ellery Center. Gary spent years turning this uninhabitable land into a lavish camp in order to give his loved ones a place of rest, relaxation, and fun. Later in life he turned his attention towards his grandchildren, and he ensured they were always filled with waffles, candy, and root beer floats. Everything Gary did he did for the love of his family.
He is survived by his wife: Gail D. Johnson; three children: Paul (Holly) Snyder of Westfield, N.Y., Kristopher (Melissa) Johnson of Sierra Vista, Az., and Bradon Johnson of Jamestown, N.Y.; three brothers: Douglas (Peggy) Johnson of Jamestown, N.Y., Alan (Sue) Johnson of Kennedy, N.Y., and Scott (Lisa) Johnson of Stow, Oh.; seven grandchildren (Lilly, Charlie, Austin, Hailey, Adam, Saydee, and Jaydian); his father Vern Johnson of Falconer; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.
In addition to his mother he was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents: Jesse and Frances Munson Stebbins; and paternal grandparents: Carl and Ada Beckwith Johnson.
There will be visitation at the Powers, Present & Sixbey Funeral Home Friday, January 24 at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Also there will be a celebration of life on Saturday, January 25 starting at 2 p.m. in the Ellington Community Church with music and dinner to follow. The Rev. Eugene Van Dette and Pastor Leroy Walker will officiate. To send a message to the family or to light a candle in memory, visit www.presentsixbeyfuneral.com.
Memorials may be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project at support.woundedwarriorproject.org.