Haverhill MA — Thomas Alfred Johnson was born on August 19, 1928, and went home to glory Tuesday morning April 9, 2013, from Penacook Place Nursing Home in Haverhill, Mass. Tom was the sixth and youngest child of Van H. Johnson and Helen (McDaniels) Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio. He was called to serve his country in the Army Air Corps and then in the US Navy. He served aboard the USS Salem from 1950 to 1952 and was awarded the Navy Occupational Service Medal. By the time he was discharged from the Navy he had married his soul mate Esther (S. Broadnax) and become the proud father of a daughter, Deborah Esther.
Thomas worked for the Boston Globe for many years until he left in 1969. He started his college career at the age of 50. In 1984 he completed his bachelor of science degree in vocational education and received his masters of education degree in 1989, from Fitchburg State College. He began his second career as a teacher and was a faculty member of the Boston Public Schools system. He loved to teach; sharing knowledge and serving the community were a big part of his life. Even during his retirement he continued to work as a substitute teacher for the Boston Public Schools and Whittier Vocational High School in Haverhill. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP holding past positions as president and treasurer of the Merrimack Valley Branch. He was also a member of the I.B.P.O.E. and the Black Ecumenical Commission. In recent years he was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Roxbury where he held positions as lieutenant governor, president, and secretary.
Tom and Esther played host to many students, fostered many grandchildren, and touched many lives. He doted on his daughter, granddaughter, and all those he considered one of his own. Tom's wit was rapier and his humor was infectious. With all of Tom's vocational and organizational ties, his faith was the core of who he was. He was raised in the St. Paul AME Zion Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and continued his walk of faith and service to the Lord at Calvary Baptist Church where he was Deacon Emeritus. When Calvary Baptist Church was nearly destroyed by arsonists, it was he along with his late wife Deaconess Esther Johnson, who put their home up as collateral to secure the funds to rebuild. Through his life of service the unifying theme was "only what we do for Christ will last".
Thomas Johnson was the husband of the late Esther (S. Broadnax) Johnson who died in 2004 and was preceded in death by siblings Van H. Johnson Jr., Lawrence Johnson, Katherine (Johnson) Bates, and Grace (Johnson) Moore. Tom is survived by daughter, Deborah E. Avery and her husband, Nicholas C. Avery; granddaughter, Nicole I. Chalas, of Haverhill; sister, Margaret (Johnson) Adams, of Pineville, N.C.; brothers- in- law, Ernest L. Owens, Cornelius E. Owens, of Clearwater, Fla., and Richard C. Broadnax Sr., of Haverhill; sisters- in-law, Barbara L. (Broadnax) Owens, of Clearwater Fla., Edith I. (Broadnax) Drayton, of Haverhill, and a very special friend, Josephine L. Brown, of Boston, Mass. Along with a host of nieces, nephews, adopted grandchildren, and friends he will be dearly missed.
ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral service on Tuesday afternoon, at 1 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 13 Ashland St., Haverhill. Calling hours will precede the funeral service on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery, Bradford, Mass. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Thomas Johnson may be made to the Calvary Baptist Church Expansion Fund, 13 Ashland St., Haverhill, MA, 01830. Arrangements are by the H.L. Farmer & Sons Funeral Homes Haverhill & Bradford. Condolences to his family may be made at www.farmerfuneralhomes.com.