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HAINES CITY - Roger Howard Johnson, 77, passed away November 18, 2009 the result of complications of Alzheimer's.
Born in 1932 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Roger was a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan. Living across the street from the original Packers 92 stadium on Cherry Street, Roger sold programs and parked cars to raise money for game tickets. He proudly displayed his prized possession-an original stockholder's certificate--on his wall.
Roger was the youngest of 7 children of Sam and Julia Johnson, owners of Johnson Fish Company. He spent a good deal of his time hunting and fishing at their property on Lake Michigan.
Serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, Roger repaired airplane radar equipment. Following his service he earned his Bachelor's degree from Spencerian College in Milwaukee, where he studied business and accounting. He was married to Joan Christianson, and had one daughter, Carrie.
After moving to Florida, he had a successful career as a Regional Service Manager with GTE. During this time he earned GTE's Outstanding Community Service Award and Boss of the Year honors from the Winter Haven chapter of the National Secretaries Association.
When AT&T took over many of the smaller phone companies during the 1980s, he retired and accepted an invitation from Mike Nolen, Jr. to join his firm. In 1987, Roger joined Cypress Gardens Realty, now Coldwell Banker, as a real estate agent. There he earned kudos, and was the recipient of the coveted Professional of the Year award. He specialized in commercial properties and particularly enjoyed the negotiation process. His second wife, Nell, of nearly 22 years, joined him later in his real estate practice, and the two teamed up well and enjoyed a successful career.
For many years, Roger pursued a hobby of raising Parakeets, selling his prized birds to pet stores. His Budgerigars, or "Budgies", as they are fondly referred to in the bird world, were a fine example of the time and effort he invested in breeding for spectacular markings. His daughter and son-in-law have fond memories of Peekaboo, their gift from her father's breeding group. Peekaboo had a 20-word vocabulary and enjoyed riding around the house on Carrie's shoulders, immensely enjoying human contact and affection.
A natural athlete, Roger enjoyed golf throughout his adult life. He traveled widely, playing a variety of courses throughout the country. With his dear friend Challis Marshall, he ran a monthly amateur golf tournament, The Masters Group.
As a long time member of Lake Region Yacht and Country Club, Roger never missed a Wednesday or a Saturday golf game. He was very proud to become a member of the Hole-in-One Club. Along with enjoying tournament style golfing, he found extreme pleasure in golfing with his son-in-law, Alan, and his two grandsons.
An avid sports fan, Roger could be found most any day, pouring over his records for football and lottery pools that he organized. He also demonstrated his devotion to sports by being a long time season ticket holder for the Orlando Magic and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Roger's involvement in community service defined his life. As a member of the Lion's Club of Winter Haven in his younger days, he served as president and represented his club at international conventions in both Hawaii and Japan.
Until recently, Roger was also a member of the Winter Haven Rotary Club, where he earned the distinguished honor of being named a Paul Harris Fellow.
Additionally, he was active in the Arts Council of Tampa, and was a founding member, and first president of the Plant City Arts Council. His image was included in a mural depicting the members of the Plant City group on the wall of a prominent city building.
Over the years, Roger also gave generously of his time to economic development. His involvement in the Central Florida Regional Planning Council contributed greatly to this passion. His commitment to economic development continued with his involvement as a director and chairman of the board of the Greater East Hillsborough County Chamber of Commerce, and serving as chairman of the East Polk Committee of 100.
Roger worked tirelessly to help with fund raising for charity. He was instrumental in establishing charity golf tournaments with area Chambers of Commerce, Sheriff's Departments and the Boy Scouts of America, to name just a few. Roger's annual efforts to raise money for the United Way began early in his career. From Dick and Julie Pope, he was awarded the "Happiest Day of Our Lives" honor at the Dick Pope Holiday in 1971, and was again honored to receive the Volunteer of the Year award from the Dick Pope Florida Cypress Gardens United Way some years later.
Roger leaves a family behind who will always love and miss him: his wife, Nell; daughter, Carrie; son-in-law, Alan, grandchildren, Marc, Brent and Toni. Additionally, Roger's extended family includes Mark, Leslie and Tyler Martin, and Roger and Sandra Judy. Three of Roger's older brothers and their wives live out of state: Bob and Em Johnson, Don and Bernice Johnson, Dick and Needra Johnson. Roger is preceded in death by his mother, father one brother and two sisters.
A lifelong Catholic, Roger was a member of St. Matthews Catholic Church.
Visitation will be Monday, November 23, 2009 from 10-11 am with a funeral service to follow at 11 am at Oak Ridge Funeral Care, Haines City. A reception will follow the burial back at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of your choice. Condolences may be made to
Oak Ridge Funeral Care
1001 Grace Avenue
Haines City, FL 33844
Published in Ledger on Nov. 20, 2009