May 10, 1933 – March 23, 2021
Leroy Johnson passed away at his residence in San Antonio March 23, 2021, at the age of 87. Born in Farmington, Arkansas on May 10, 1933, to Frederick Horace and Annie Louise (Baty) Johnson, he was raised in Checotah, Oklahoma.
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 65 years, Yolanda (Ledesma) Johnson, parents, sister Lucille Paxton of Kansas City, Kansas, and brother George W. Johnson of Covina, California.
Leroy joined the US Army at 17 years old during the Korean War. He was assigned to 180th Infantry, 3rd Battalion, Company M. Leroy also served in the 24th and 45th Infantry Divisions and 11th and 18th Airborne Divisions. He earned the Bronze Star for heroic achievement. A Navy aircraft was shot up and crash landed close to the trenches. About 200 yards from where he and his fellow soldiers were in battle with the North Koreans. He told them to cover him as he ran toward craft. He was able to break the cockpit canopy with his fist, and pull the unconscious pilot out of the burning plane and get him to the trenches where medics worked on him. Unfortunately he never learned of the pilot's fate. He was wounded in battle narrowly escaping death when a bullet pierced his helmet and grazed his skull. After the war, Leroy was assigned to a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1958 for which he received retroactively the Expeditionary Medal directed by President John F Kennedy in 1961. Of all the recognition he received and because it personally came from the people for whom he fought, none was more precious to him than the medal presented by South Korean government officials along with a letter of gratitude dated June 25, 2000 from Kim Dae-jung, President of the Republic of Korea. It was given to all veterans for preserving freedom from communism and allowing their way of life to continue. Their show toured the USA with examples of their arts and culture along with a presentation of the medals to each individual veteran.
In the 1950s Leroy was stationed at Fort Sam Houston and soon met the love of his life, Yolanda. Leroy often walked from Ft Sam to her work downtown, got her home safely and walked miles back to post. When he asked for their blessing to marry her, he had his future in-laws hold her engagement ring for a year to show his devotion. They married on May 5, 1956. Leroy and Yolanda regularly showed their love for each other dancing and singing around the house. They raised five children in their loving home, and were ecstatic about becoming grandparents.
The grandchildren loved spending time with Grandma and Papo. Sometimes Papo would offer them "kid's coffee" or "coffee milk," and that made them feel special. He would wiggle his fingers and warn, "THE CLAWWWW!" as the grandkids laughed and covered their bellies preparing to be tickled. He told them Luby's cafeteria was the place "Where the elite meet to eat!" and showed them to gesture with a chef's kiss in response. He loved showing his garden and sending them home with something like a bag full of grapefruits from the tree he grew from seed. There also were the pecans from his many trees he and the children would collect together. They enjoyed going to Woodlawn Lake to walk laps and on hot sunny days he was sure to wear one of his many caps. He'd have tomatoes or other favorite treats waiting for his grandkids. Papo explained complicated facts and ideas about military planes and electronics even if it was over their heads. And Papo always had a big hug available for all his grandbabies. As the grandchildren grew older, he shared knowledge of the benefits of certain spices and foods and some say they've learned to eat healthy because of him. He even convinced them to eat a pickled egg or Ceylon cinnamon. The grandchildren will miss rides to Castroville to get goodies from Dzuiks and a stop at the Tractor Supply Store, Leroy's favorite places.
Leroy loved working with electronics and anything mechanical. He could take ordinary items and turn them into technology. In the 1970s, while working Civil Service at Kelly AFB, Leroy responded to the need for repair of radar/navigation systems on a fleet of F-105 fighter jets at Andrews AFB. He showed up with his toolbox, evaluated the systems and was able to get the fleet back into operation soon after. As satelliteTV became available he used a pole, salad bowl, copper kettle and a coffee can to make an antennae that received satellite stations...for free...temporarily! He could take plexiglass and components to make a radio and he made an intercom system to monitor the perimeter of the house. Leroy loved sharing his knowledge of anything from science to history to gardening and everything in between. When his young children got into trouble, they were sure to get a lecture and learn something, like long division, before he was through with them.
Although he was a quiet, private person he loved a good laugh. His ability to use humor to make light of a situation made being around him a joy. And though early life exposed him to worldly horrors, he was a very gentle, patient, loving, caring husband, father, grandfather and Christian. Leroy and Yolanda were very active at St John Berchmans Church. Since the 1970s he often raised money running for "King" and was later a Eucharistic Minister. Together they served many people in need. His passion for reading made him well versed in the Bible and the Koran and many other subjects. He was often complimented for being very kind and very intelligent.
Leroy is survived by his children Frederick (Rahnae) Johnson, Leroy Johnson, Jr., David (Melanie) Johnson, Vivian (Cruz) Solis, Susan (Harold) Brown, 15 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.
Our family is grateful to Leroy III for spending his days and nights selflessly caring for Papo after an extended hospital stay. God bless you.
"He never looked for praises. He was never one to boast. He just went on quietly working for the ones he loved the most.
His dreams were seldom spoken. His wants were very few. And most of the time his worries went unspoken too.
He was there... A firm foundation through all our storms of life. A sturdy hand to hold on to in times of stress and strife.
A true friend we could turn to when times were good or bad. One of our greatest blessings, the man that we called Dad. - from all-greatquotes.com
St. John Berchmans Catholic ChurchCovid-19 Restrictions: Limited family and guests at facility. All must be wearing facial coverings and practice social distancing throughout facility.
Private Committal Service
Fort Sam Houston National CemeteryCovid-19 Restrictions: 50 family and guest limit at Cemetery. All must be wearing facial coverings and practice social distancing throughout Cemetery.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
April 20, 2021
Dear Johnson Families,
So sorry for the loss of your dear loved one, Leroy Johnson. My condolences to the families.
April 12, 2021
Marylou and I were saddened to hear that your father had passed away, and wanted to share our condolences to you and your family. We will keep you in our prayers and hope you find some peace during this difficult time.
Mark and Marylou Brittingham
March 30, 2021
I am very sorry to hear of your fathers passing. You, and your family, are in my prayers. My sincerest condolences.
March 30, 2021
My deepest condolences from my family to yours. You are in Our hearts and family prayers. The loss of a Mother and a Father is beyond comprehension. May you find strength in your family and friends during this time. Mr. Johnson was a wonderful father, always inviting to his children’s friends no matter how crazy and energetic we were. May God bless you. The Chavarria Family
March 30, 2021
My Uncle Leroy truly was a Hero. He was my Hero! I looked up to him as a kid and every day since. Yours and Aunt Yolie's story is a Love Story that should be etched in granite. I hope you're Happy with your Love in your arms once again. You're missed Uncle Leroy, and Loved!
March 30, 2021
From the beginning Dad showed us patience, kindness, compassion and love. He never set time limits on his time and never gossiped. Instead Dad loved conversations about ideas, concepts and the inner workings of things. Dad always allowed us to venture out and make our own decisions but was always our safe place to land. He had a quiet strength to him and a quiet sense of humor and he enjoyed and loved Mom with all his heart and soul. I miss you Papa and will always carry you in my heart and in my thoughts. Thank you for showing us how to live, love and be compassionate towards others. God’s blessing and love kindness be with you for I truly believe you have earned your crowns in heaven. I love you Dad.