Monday, July 21, 2008

Vern "Dick" Johnson, April 1, 1942-July 15, 2008


J-7--Vern Johnson was a dear friend of the family who died on the 15th of this month. "Dick"--as he preferred to be called--was a nice man, and a best friend of our step-father, Robert Myers.

Bob & Dick were neighborhood kids in the River Park section of South Bend, a one time working-class area that counted Studebaker and Uniroyal employees as its residents. Both companies are long-gone from Michiana.

Dick was a machinist most of his life, and hooked-up with my step-father after both had been through their first divorce, it was the early-1970s. Both of them loved hitting the bars and seeing movies, and partying.

They were both quiet and ordinary men with their own interests. Dick loved cars, and Bob loved collecting art. It was Bob who got me to take the final plunge into the world of Kurt Vonnegut. Dick loved 50s rock-n'-roll, an interest I shared with him. I still do.

In 2002, Dick contracted Legionnaire's disease, and miraculously survived until last week. He died or an aortic congestion of the heart after leaving an appointment with his doctor in Fort Wayne, he was driving.

Somehow, he managed to pull his car over in what might have been a selfless act. I'd like to think that Dick realized he was having some kind of attack, and thinking of others, pulled over to avoid the possibility of hurting anyone if he was no longer able to control his car. That's as good an epitaph as anyone could hope for. He was a good man, and he is redeemed.