Frank Carleton Johns Jr. went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, after a six-year battle against ALS. Frank left this world, peacefully, in his sleep at home with his family. He was 63 years old.
Frank was born in St. Augustine on Jan. 16, 1951, to Frank and Charlotte Johns. He grew up in Hastings, moved to St. Augustine during high school and graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1969. Frank went on to earn a bachelor's degree in food and resource economics from the University of Florida
before he set out to pursue a career in farming. His constant refrain was that farming was not rocket science; rather, to him it was art, obsessive passion and the pursuit of perfection.
Frank's life and career were defined by his devotion to the Lord, his family and his farm. In 1976, he founded Tater Farms, upon which he built his legacy as a fourth generation farmer with an innate talent for growing, a sharp eye for detail and a creative mind for innovation. With the help of his devoted wife, Polly, and numerous dedicated, talented employees, Frank built his farm into an impressive enterprise. At the same time, Frank and Polly built a family grounded in Christian faith and love. Frank's tireless work ethic provided security for his family and saw his sons through college, setting a shining example for how to lead a successful life.
Frank understood the importance of leadership and service to the community. As a child, he was active in both 4-H and Future Farmers of America. In college, he was a member of Alpha Gama Rho fraternity, where he held the position of noble ruler. He served as a chairman for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association from 2002 to 2004; he was a member of the board of directors for nearly 20 years and the executive committee for 11. He served on the Hastings Drainage District for 14 years including a stint as chairman. He represented Florida on the National Potato Promotion Board for six years, including two on its executive committee. He also served as director of the St. Johns County Fairgrounds Association and served on FFVA Mutual Insurance Company's board of directors since 2005. Frank also was a member of the first class of what is now known as the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Frank will be dearly missed, but fondly remembered.
He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Polly; his sons, Carleton and Christopher; his mother, Charlotte Johns; his sisters, Helen Johns Henderson and Doree Johns Giles; his brother, Danny Johns; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends. Frank's father, Frank Johns, predeceased him in 1995.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Community Bible Church located at 3150 US 1 South, St. Augustine, FL 32086. Flowers are gratefully accepted and memorial donations may be made to the Community Bible Church Mission's Fund or the ALS Association (www.alsa.org
St. Johns Family Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.