BENTON – Earl F. Johnson Jr. of Benton, LA entered into Eternal Rest at the age of 82 on Good Friday, April 18, 2014, at 5:40 AM at home, surrounded by family, following a long illness.
Born on November 17, 1931 in Red River Parish, LA, he was the third of eight children, and the eldest son, born to Earl Sr. and Priscilla “Callie” Johnson. He grew up on a farm, was educated in Coushatta, LA, and competed in the professional rodeo circuit, riding wild broncos and bulls, before marrying Theda Bierden on June 8, 1951. Married over 62 years, Earl and Theda have been long-time residents of Bossier Parish and are members of the Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, LA.
Earl was retired from Bird & Son Co., Inc., a Shreveport asphalt roofing manufacturing plant. There he began a career, which spanned a period of over 40 years, with the last 31 years spent as a Maintenance Supervisor, and then in Management.
Earl’s career at Bird was interrupted for four years when he enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. He served from October 1951 through October 1955. He won many honors and awards while in the military, including Soldier of the Month (the first time ever that an Airman in the Air Force had been named Soldier of the Month), Airman of the Month, winner of the Light Heavyweight Boxing Championship in the Southeast Conference, and he invented a “jig” to repair jet aircraft for which he was honored by the military, and patents were issued. He served in Korea in what would later be known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant.
Earl was a Freemason, having attained the position of 10th Degree of the York Rite, and was a 3rd Degree Master Mason in the Blue Lodge in Bossier City. He was a member of the American Legion, the Pelican Travelers Motor Home Club (where he and wife Theda traveled all over the United States), and the Southern Swingers Square Dance Club. Earl was an unusually talented man, considered by many as a Jack of All Trades as he was an inventor, an artist, an expert welder and machinist, a mechanic, builder and designer, contractor, gardener, blacksmith and boatman. Earl was also a cattle rancher in Bossier, Caddo, and Red River Parishes.
Earl was pre-deceased by his parents and four brothers, Raymond, Jerald, J. C., and Frederick. He is survived by his wife Theda Bierden Johnson of Benton, LA; daughters, Rhonda Johnson Byrd of Arlington, TX and Theresa Johnson Miller of Dallas, TX; son Russell Earl Johnson of Benton, LA; grandson John Byrd Jr. of San Antonio, TX; granddaughters, Alyssa Johnson Deason of Austin, TX and Allison Johnson of Fargo, ND; four great-grandsons, Peyton, Pryce and Paxton Deason of Austin, TX and Wylie Finch Johnson of Fargo, ND; sisters Minnie Lea Johnson Hull of McKinney, TX, Helen Johnson McFarland of Mansfield, LA, and Nell Johnson Strickland of Azle, TX; sons-in-law John Byrd Sr. of Arlington, TX and Wayne Miller of Dallas, TX; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends.
Visitation will be held from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at Hill Crest Memorial Funeral Home located at 601 US Highway 80 East, Haughton, LA, 71037, immediately followed by a 2:00 p.m. Funeral Service at the same location conducted by Rev. Tommy Patton. Earl Johnson will be laid to rest at the Hill Crest Cemetery.
Pallbearers are Richard Bryant Roys, Kenneth Lee, Timmy Gladney, Bill Russell, King Gladney, and David Russell Gladney. Honorary pallbearers are Jim Deason, Bill Cornelius, Wesley Hull, Kevin Lee, Kerry Webb, and Marlan “JuneBug” Anderson.
You may offer condolences and sign the on-line guest book by visiting www.hillcrestmemorialfh.com.