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  • "The Alpha Eta Chapter, Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity,..."
    - John Layton
  • "Mrs. Gere and Family ~ My sincere condolences to you and..."
    - Cathy Crawford-Naracon
  • "My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. John's family. I had..."
    - Dorinda Watson
  • "Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. You will be..."
    - George and Sheryl Allen
  • "I knew Jerome as a young girl in Starke.I was friends with..."
    - Diana Smith Dedwylder
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Charley Jerome Johns, Charley Jerome Johns, noted banker, businessman, outdoorsman and conservationist, dies at 85.

Charley Jerome Johns died peacefully on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at Shands Starke after a long illness.

Jerome was born in the town of Baldwin, Florida on June 18, 1928, the son of former Governor and Senator Charley E. and Thelma Brinson Johns.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Gere Howard Johns, daughter, Debra Johns (Frank Williams) of Pomona, CA, son Phillip (Linda), of Santa Fe Lake, sister Markley Ann Cash of Starke, and 7 grandchildren: 9 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, and many friends and associates.

Jerome was a friend and mentor to many.

In 1933 Jerome moved to Starke, Florida where his father worked as a conductor for the Seaboard Railroad Company, who later opened an insurance agency. Jerome grew up in Starke and attended school there from kindergarten through his graduation from Bradford County High School in 1946 where he lettered in all sports. After graduation from high school he attended Emory University at Oxford in Covington, GA earning an AA degree in 1948. He then transferred to the University of Florida where he attended until 1949. In 1950 he served on active duty with the Naval Reserve for one year and then continued to serve in the Naval Reserve (Inactive) from 1950 to 1958.

Upon completion of his active duty with the Naval Reserve, he enrolled back into the University of Florida where he completed his college education and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1952.

After graduation from the University of Florida, he went to work for his father at the Charley E. Johns Insurance Agency in Starke, Florida and he managed the Starke Ice Company that his father owned.

In 1954 Phillips Petroleum Company moved into the state of Florida and he joined the company as a petroleum Jobber serving the area of Bradford, Baker, Union, Clay and parts of Duval County. The petroleum company went on to build a bulk plant and service stations in Starke. He then built and acquired 10 other stations and numerous other commercial businesses for kerosene and diesel fuel accounts in the area. In 1972 he sold the business. He was active in the 1960's with the Florida Petroleum Association, and was president of the association in 1976. He also served as President of the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association twice. He was honored with the Silver Service Award from the Association in 1963.

From 1960 thru 1968 he served on the Board of County Commissioners for Bradford County. During his time as Chairman of the Board he encouraged the Board to build a new courthouse. He served in many various positions in the county and continued to play an important part in his community.

In 1968 Jerome founded a new company called Gator Freightways and went into the trucking business. He bought the Intra State Authority of Ryder Truck Lines that was doing a yearly business of $2 Million in Revenues, and he also went on to build a network of terminals throughout Florida with 16 major locations serving all of the State of Florida, and going from Florida to Atlanta, GA. Jerome was successful with this business and built it up to $20 Million in revenue. He sold this business in 1988. During his years in the trucking business he served as a member of the Florida Trucking Association. He was selected "Man of the Year" by the Association in 1987, and in 1992 he was elected Chairman of the Board of the Florida Trucking Association.

In 1957 his father founded Community State Bank of Starke, and in 1964 Jerome was elected to the Board of Directors of the Bank. In 1980 he was elected President. He served the bank as Chairman of the Board and CEO.

Jerome was an avid outdoorsman and conservationist. He served from the inception on the Board of the Suwannee River Water Management District when he was appointed by Governor Rueben Askew. At the time of his appointment his background was in the business field. He took his knowledge of the principles of business and put those principles to work for the District. During his years of service he helped to build a good staff of people to run the district. He helped acquire property, and he played a major part in many of the ground floor decisions of the Suwannee River Water Management District. He served as Vice-Chairman under Joh Camp, and as Chairman following Mr. Camp's retirement. His goal always was to make certain that the Region had a good quality of life and had a good clean sustainable water supply.

He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Sheriff's Association, and the Economic Development Authority (where he was a successful in bringing many new businesses to the area); he served two terms as Exalted Ruler of the BPOE Elks, a Mason and Shriner. He served an unprecedented three terms as President of the Chamber of Commerce, being the first person in the Chambers history to serve three terms as President. He was President and State Vice President of the Jaycees. He was also Chairman of the Region 1X Coordinating Council of Santa Fe Community College from 1984 to 1992. He has been awarded numerous times throughout his lifetime for his service and his commitment and involvement in the community. He was on the Board Division 9 Planning Council, and received the Chamber of Commerce's Good Government Award in 1995. He has received numerous awards and certificates of appreciation from the City Parks & Recreation Department, the Bantam Baseball Program, the Dixie Youth Baseball, and Gateway Girls Scout Council. He actively supported the FFA, 4-H, the High-Q Club, Toys for Tykes, and was a business partner at Starke Elementary School. He was a member of Florida Blue Key and he received the Sam Walton Business Leadership Award.

At age 48 Jerome was in a freak accident on Crystal Lake where he lost a leg. During treatment after the accident he was placed in a Hyperbaric Chamber for treatment. The Hyperbaric Chamber at Shands Teaching Hospital was like an old fashioned "iron lung" where doctors or nurses could not go in and out of the chamber. During this experience he learned that Shands Teaching Hospital had a Hyperbaric Chamber that had been donated by NASA that had the capability of allowing doctors and nurses to go in and out of the Chamber to assist a patient; however, the Teaching Hospital did not have the funds to install it. While Jerome was recovering he petitioned the State Legislature to provide an appropriation to install the Hyperbaric Chamber. He was successful in getting the funding to install the Chamber. In appreciation for his efforts to secure funds for the installation, the new Hyperbaric Chamber was dedicated as the Jerome Johns Hyperbaric Facility and is still in use at Shands Teaching Hospital. Two plaques are placed on the Hyperbaric Chamber that read: "The Jerome Johns Hyperbaric Facility In Appreciation of His Concerns for Others" and "The Hyperbaric Facility has been made possible with the aid of public and private funds and is a joint endeavor of the University of Florida and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration". The Hyperbaric Chamber has saved many lives since.

Jerome was an active member of Keystone United Methodist Church.

Funeral services will be held Sunday, November 24, 2013 at the Keystone United Methodist Church on State Road 21, Keystone Heights, FL at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will be Saturday, November 23, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. til 8:00 p.m. in the DEWITT C. JONES CHAPEL of JONES-GALLAGHER FUNERAL HOME 904-964-6200. A private interment for immediate family only will be at a later time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Florida United Methodist Children's Home, P.O. Box 6299, Deltona, FL 32728. Arrangements are by Jones-Gallagher Funeral home of Starke. On-line condolences may be left at

Funeral Home
Jones-Gallagher Funeral Home
620 E Nona St
Starke, FL 32091
(904) 964-6200
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Published in Gainesville Sun from Nov. 23 to Nov. 24, 2013
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