Wayne Arnold Johnson
December 25, 1937 – June 4, 2019
Wayne Arnold Johnson, 81, of Dallas, Texas went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Preceding Wayne in death were his father, Carl, and mother, Viola Johnson, his sister’s Wilma Rizzo and Marion Ladd, and his big brother Vernon Johnson.
Wayne was born December 25, 1937, in Gowanda, New York to parents Carl & Viola (Youngberg) Johnson. He grew up in the rolling hills of Gowanda, NY a small town South of Buffalo. Wayne was much younger than his three older siblings. And as a young boy, he so admired his two sisters Marion (school teacher) and Wilma (switchboard operator) and brother Vernon (WW2 Air Force Veteran) as they left the house for marriage, careers and starting families. God’s faithful hand was evident through two tragedies early in Wayne’s life. At age 8, the family would pile into the car of his sister, Wilma and her husband, Hank. Barreling down a country hill, Wayne fell out of the car traveling at 60 miles per hour. He was not expected to survive, but God was present and preserved his life. Although healed, he would carry the scars of that accident as a testimony of God’s faithful delivery the rest of his life.
At age 9 (1946), Wayne’s father Carl passed away; leaving his mother Viola and Wayne to work hard to make ends meet. Wayne developed a good work ethic, maintaining several jobs throughout high school ranging from resetting pins at the town bowling alley, changing the reels at the movie theater, fixing bicycles at the bike shop in town, to processing hides at a large tannery. Throughout his life, many would benefit from his ability to just do the jobs that needed to be done. Wayne graduated from Gowanda High School on June 27, 1955. He moved to Buffalo, NY to earn a certificate from the Bryant & Stratton Business Institute, a decision that would direct so much of his future career.
Wayne moved to Tulsa, OK in 1957 to work with his older brother Vernon. Vern and his wife Paula Jean and family would invite Wayne to attend Grace Bible Church in Tulsa, OK. At a revival service in 1958, Wayne would come to know Christ as his personal Savior, initiating a life-changing transformation.
With a passion for his new faith in Christ, Wayne moved to Dallas, TX to pursue Biblical training at Dallas Bible College (1960). He would earn a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Education (1964). The highlight of those years at DBC was meeting his beautiful wife, Neomi Hamburger Johnson. They married June 16, 1962, at Woodhaven Baptist Church. Together, inspired by the martyred five missionaries attempting to reach the Auca’s of Ecuador (1957), Wayne and Neomi would join Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1964. This would be the start of many years of work in missions. Wayne and Neomi pursued training in Linguistics to become translators. In 1965 they arrived in Colombia to serve at Lomalinda, Wycliffe’s center of operations for the country. Wayne’s training in business was quickly discovered and readily put to use. Rather than an assignment in translation, Wayne assumed a support role in finance and administration that began a decade of service in Colombia.
In 1968, Wayne and Neomi would welcome Darryl into their family. In the Spring of 1969, yet another vehicle accident would mark a significant milestone in the Johnson family history. Together with another missionary couple, Wayne, Neomi, and Darryl embarked on a 10-hour taxi ride over the high mountain pass from Bogota. Careening along the mountain road, their taxi cab encountered a mud-slide and slipped off the side of the mountain. The car tumbled in end over end in free fall landing upside down in the mud 100 feet below. The vehicle continued sliding towards a cliff and the valley floor below when an uprighted tree caught the bumper. Unable to be seen from the road above, it was providence that another vehicle saw the accident occur. As cars gathered, a few bystanders began the climb down to render aid and assist the missionaries climbing back up to the road’s edge. Back on the road, they were met by a Colombian doctor familiar with Wycliffe, who supervised their care while driving that same road back to a hospital in Bogota (capital of Colombia). Surviving the accident, relatively unharmed, was noteworthy and the story was published in the newspaper. While in the hospital many Colombians would come to get a glimpse of the Americans that survived the accident. The accident became a testimony to God’s faithfulness and plans for both missionary couples.
In the following years, Wayne and Neomi would welcome their two daughters; Kimberly (1971) and Janeene (1974). All three of their children were born in Bogota, Colombia.
Wayne would continue his support role with Wycliffe serving as the head of Finance at Lomalinda, Colombia through 1974. Returning to the States for family medical reasons in 1975, Wayne became the Center Director for the SIL Center in Dallas, TX. He also served as the general administrator for the SIL Summer programs on the campus of Oklahoma University. In 1979, Wayne assumed the role of International budget director for SIL and would continue to serve in Int’l Finance until 1983.
In 1981, while continuing his responsibilities at SIL, Wayne enrolled at Dallas Baptist University and began using his evenings to study. He earned a BA in Business Administration graduating with honors in 1983. Later that year, Wayne made one of his most difficult career decisions, to leave Wycliffe and the work he so cherished. Through a good friend at church, Wayne found work as an accountant. This working relationship would last for the next 20 years. After retiring at age 65, Wayne returned to Wycliffe for a few years working once again in accounting and finance.
In the last 60 years, Wayne Johnson was actively involved in two churches that he considered home; Duncanville Bible Church and Faith Bible Church. These friendships that grew through service to the church would become such a vital part of his life. He would serve in many roles including Deacon and various leadership capacities in Sunday School and Life Groups (home meetings).
Wayne will be remembered for his love of spending time with family and friends. His family will continue to remember Wayne standing at a BBQ grill preparing food for them. He enjoyed gathering with friends and earned the nickname “Watermelon Johnson” for his faithful delivery of said food group to potlucks. Recalling his sense of humor, Wayne always enlivened game nights with close friends. Wayne also enjoyed God’s creation and most things outdoors. His family fondly remembers days spent fishing and camping and eating the many charred items from the grill.
His memory will be cherished by his wife, Neomi; son Darryl & Denise Johnson with grandsons Daniel, David & Dathan; daughter Kim & Mike Marlar and grandkids Andrea, Danielle & Austin; and daughter Janeene & Chad Mankins with grandsons Elijah, Zeke, Levi & Gideon; along with many extended family and close friends.
Each of your friendships meant so much to Wayne.
- Visitation Tuesday, June 11, 2019
- Memorial Service Wednesday, June 12, 2019
- Refreshments to Follow Wednesday, June 12, 2019