Elder Johnnie will be missed by family, all

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To the Editor:

Since graduating from Franklin High School in 1990, my visits to Franklin have been limited to holidays, some birthdays and church events, but now even those visits will have new meaning.

On Friday, my grandfather passed away. His last breath was taken while leaving the sacred grounds of his most favorite place to be on this earth, his church — St. John.

As a child I would complain of how he drove 8 mph down South Street with his left hand held constantly in the corner of the windshield waving at almost everyone who passed him. Most of the horn-honking was from anyone who knew him or a quick burst to let him know that the light changed 10 seconds ago. What I didn’t realize was that this 75-year-old was such an integral part of this community and he had built relationships with so many people. He broke through the barriers of racism a long time ago. I remember so many people who loved “Reverend JR”, “Elder Johnnie” or just “John,” who was the caretaker of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church for more years than I’ve been on this earth.

He was a people person who treated the wayward just as equally as he would his family. He fed anyone who crossed his Delk Street doorstep.

We are going to miss coming home and hearing his jokes about standing in the yard watching the leaves on the tree and falling backwards, planting flowers and coming across the bee hives that he had to run away from, funny people in the church and the jokes he told from the pulpit. I’m going to miss him telling us about all of the graveside committals he performed for Mr. Vaughn when the deceased had no one to pray for their soul. I’m going to miss him doing the roll call just to get to my name, “uh, Lenette, Cynthia, Gail , I mean Kim, get me a cold glass of water, please?”

I’m especially going to miss those Christmas, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day moments after dinner on the piano playing a medley of his favorite hymns and singing praises to God until he actually “got happy.”

Thank you, Dad, for putting the “H” in Home, teaching us all how to love God, treat everyone equally and showing the Franklin community how to be upstanding citizens and supporting neighbors.

You will be greatly missed.

Kim Williams Draper (the oldest grand)