Our dad, Ralph (Mike) Matthews Johnson Jr., age 70, passed away on Tuesday, Sept 1st. He was born June 25, 1950 in Atlanta, Georgia to Ralph and Dorothy Johnson. He grew up in Sandy Springs and graduated from Sandy Springs High School. He said back then they only had one red-light. As a teenager, Mike loved biking and once road a bike from Sandy Springs to Gray just because he could. He also swam competitively and won several medals in swimming at the Jr Olympics. Later in life Dad kept swimming, surprising those that would not expect a man of his size to cut through the water like that. Have we mentioned that dad liked to eat? We will get to that later. He attended Georgia College in Milledgeville and met his future wife Pat Collins, who later became “BIG MOM” to their three sons. (Mom, we know you never thought you would hear that again, but you know he is smiling). After graduation, he worked at Western Auto in Macon, Georgia until he discovered his true calling as a teacher. When he started at Crawford County High School, he taught Business and Typing. As technology evolved, so did Mike. He taught the first ever computer classes in the district and eventually had students win various state and national technology competitions under his mentorship. One of his favorite sayings was “The Luddites Lost.” (Don’t worry, we had to look it up too.) In his spare time, Mike was an avid wood worker. He learned woodworking skills from his dad who was a homebuilder. Our dad always strived for perfection, and we mean that literally. We could never move to the next step until he said that magic word, “perfect”. Some projects may have had extended periods of time between those “perfects”, but you always knew Dad was never going to cut any corners. He built and crafted everything you can imagine from a pool table as a teenager, to a rocking chair for his wife. In middle age, he began building abacuses, or abaci if you like, in his woodshop. He was fascinated with these “first computers” and claimed that he built one that could count every drop of water in all the oceans. And yes, he had to figure that out before he built it. Others like the “Eye-Ball-Acus” (an abacus with eyeball beads), the “A-Boat-Acus” (an abacus in the shape of a boat), and an “Apple-Ba-Cus” (an abacus with apple beads that he would later call the first iPad) showed Dad’s sense of humor. Mike also liked to eat. We told you we would get back to that. One of his proudest accomplishments was eating over a thousand popcorn shrimp on an All-You-Can-Eat night at Red Lobster. Yes, you read that right, one thousand. He always bragged that afterwards he still had room for ice cream. Later in life his focus shifted to his grandchildren. We never saw him happier than when he was showing his grandkids around Disney World. He even retired early just so he could spend more time being “Grandpa”. He was well on his way to being the “World’s Best Grandpa” when he was diagnosed with dementia. In true Mike Johnson fashion, he finished his life with dignity and character, fighting for 7 years to do for himself until the very end.
Mike will be lovingly remembered by his former wife, Pat Johnson; sons and daughters-in law, Ryan Johnson, Andy and Lisa Johnson, Stephen and Sarah Johnson; grandchildren, Sophia, Reagan, Alex, Josh, Katie, Charlie and Lucas; Sister and brother-in-law, Becky and Paul Creech; as well as two nephews, Matt Creech and wife, Lacey, and Will Creech. The family will host a celebration of his life on Saturday, September 5, 2020 at noon at Lazy Acres in Mansfield, GA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Crawford County High School TSA Club, 400 E Agency St, Roberta, GA 31078.
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