Death of Richard Lee “Rusty” Johnson

Richard Lee “Rusty” Johnson, 79, of Charleston peacefully passed away, surrounded by family and friends, on Sunday, August 14, 2011.

He was born on September 21, 1931, at his home in St. Albans to Hazel Annalee Phillips and Harry Herford Johnson.

He attended schools in St. Albans as well as Morris Harvey and West Virginia State colleges. He worked at Union Carbide in Institute for 27 years, Western Southern Life Insurance for 15 years and, up until his death, was a realtor for United Realty in Dunbar.

Rusty was a faithful member of Elk Hills Presbyterian Church and actively involved as an elder, Sunday school teacher and trustee. He was a 50-year member of Kanawha Lodge 20 AF&A.M. He was also a 50-year member and 32nd degree Mason of the Scottish Rite, Valley of Charleston, as well as a member of the Beni Kedem Shrine, where he served several years as chaplain, secretary of the Oriental Band, and member of the Royal Order of Jesters. He was a past president of the South Atlantic Shrine Oriental Band Association and past patron of the Order of the Eastern Star. He frequently provided transportation for children and their families to the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children in Lexington, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio. Rusty was also an Air Force veteran.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, James Johnson.

Left to cherish his memories are his loving wife of 55 years, Susan Watson Johnson; his devoted daughters, Gail Johnson Goodnight of Charleston and Renee Johnson Wood and husband, Lorne, of Bridgeport; and his three beloved grandchildren, Justin Douglas Goodnight, Courtney Lynn Goodnight and Benjamin Richard Johnson Wood. He is also survived by his much-loved dog, Sammy Salsa.

He will be missed by his brothers, Douglas and wife, Rose Johnson, of Columbus, Ohio, and Robert and wife, Donetta Johnson, of St. Albans; and his sister, Hazel Lenora Hinkle of Hillsville, Va. He was a beloved uncle to his nieces and nephews. He is also survived by cousins and his brother-in-law, Gene Watson and wife, Dorothy; and sister-in-law, Greyann Nida and husband,Baxter.

Rusty was a devoted Christian and loved life. His greatest joy was his family. He loved the outdoors, working on the farm, and traveling. He was a kind and compassionate man with a big, soft heart. He reached out and helped many people throughout his life…often anonymously. He will be missed by many.

Rusty’s family would like to express their appreciation to the Rev. Jim Robinson and the staff of CAMC General Hospital MICU for their care, kindness and support.

A gathering of friends and family will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 17, at Bartlett-Burdette-Cox Funeral Home.

A celebration of Rusty’s life will be held at noon Thursday, officiated by the Rev. Jim Robinson and the Rev. Tom Young at Bartlett-Burdette-Cox Funeral Home. Friends may call one hour prior to the service. Burial will follow in Graceland Memorial Park, South Charleston, with Masonic rites.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33612; or Elk Hills Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 12282, Charleston, WV 25302.

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