Norman Ray Johnson
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Norman Ray Johnson

January 06, 2014 - January 20, 2014

Norman Ray Johnson

January 06, 2014 - January 20, 2014

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Obituary for Norman Ray Johnson

Funeral services for Mr. Norman Ray Johnson, Sr. 73, of Nacogdoches, Texas will be held on Monday, January 27, 2014, at 10:00 AM at Christ Episcopal Church in Nacogdoches, Texas with The Reverend Howard Castleberry, officiant, The Reverend Gary Hill, Homilist and The Reverend Wanda Cuniff, Deacon. A graveside service will be held at 4:00 PM on Monday, January 27, 2014, with Pastor Charles Johnson officiating at Rosewood Cemetery in Rosewood, Texas. Mr. Johnson was born on April 3, 1940, in Gilmer, Texas to the late Norman Dane Johnson and Monta Mae Shelby Johnson. He passed away on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, in Nacogdoches. Norman graduated from Harmony High School in 1958 in Upshur County, Texas. He earned his Associate of Arts Degree from Lon Morris Junior College in 1960, his Bachelor of Science Degree from SFA in 1963 and a Master of Theology degree form Southern Methodist University in 1966. Norman was raised in the Rosewood Community in Upshur County, Texas, He had his first professional singing performance at age 3, at a Christmas pary for First National Bank in Gilmer with a fee of $2.00. At age 8 he performed his first live radio broadcast at KSIJ in Gladewater and went back to KSIJ in his late teens to work part time as a DJ. He also performed in various area shows throughout his youth including, The East Texas Hillbilly Roundup at Municipal Auditorium in Gladewater, The Strand Theater and The Stembridge Feed Store Show both in Gilmer, as well as The Lowery Variety Show in Mount Vernon and at KIMP in Mount Pleasant, as well as area school auditoriums and civic clubs. Norman performed an hour show each year at the annual East Texas Yamboree from 1954-1958. He will probably be best remembered during that time for his Elvis Presley impersonations. In fact, he is confirmed as being the World's First Elvis Impersonator. He also worked on road shows with various Louisiana Hayride stars. Norman's broadcast career continued in the sixties as a Host of Talent Time Twelve television show in Beaumont, Texas. From there he went on to host the Norman Johnson Country Party Show at KSPL in Diboll and Lufkin, Texas through the 1970's. He was the general manager and Air Personality on KGRI in Henderson in the early to mid eighties. He then hosted the Norman Johnson Show, a talk radio show at KSFA in Nacogdoches in the late eighties to 2001. Norman co-hosted with wife, Lill, Norman's Nacogdoches information and entertainment television show concurrently with his radio show. Norman retired from broadcasting in 2001 due to spinal degenerative arthiritis. In 2004 he was stricken with Malignant Otitis Externa and was given two days to one week to live. He beat the odds but was left with no hearing in his right ear and twenty percent hearing in the left ear. Utilizing his famous twisted sense of logic, he decided to return to music and performing in 2005. He released a CD, "Sincerely, Norman Johnson" that received widespread success throughtout the state of Texas. He also wrote an autobiography entitled, "The Kid and the King." It has experienced a high volume of sales throughout the United States and around the world. He was contracted to do over 150 book signings during the year 2009. Norman worked professionally with most of the legendary country music stars including Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Tommy Cash, The Browns, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jacky Ward, Claude Gray, Norma Jean, the Blackwoods and more recently, with Ray Price, Percy Sledge and Willie P. Richardson. He is credited with having discovered three of Texas' great country music stars, Jacky Ward, who had a string of top ten songs, as well as a smash number one, million album sell "Big Blue Diamonds" in the seventies and eighties, Linda Davis, who racked up several top tens in the eighties and nineties, including two number one duets with Reba McIntyre and Mike Hammock who was voted Male Vocalist of the year in 2004, 2005 and 2006 by The Inspirational Country Music Association. In 1992, he received the Award of Harmony by the SPEBSQDS, in 2009 he was chosen as Grand Marshall of the Nacogoches Nine Flag Festival Lighted Parade, founder of the Nacogdoches Community Coalition and served three terms as Executive Vice President, served two terms as a member of The Board of Directors of The Nacogdoches County Exposition Center. He played a principle role in the building of the Nacogoches Plaza Principal and the Community Built Playground. Norman is prominently mentioned in Dr. Billy Graham's autobiography, "Just As I am:, both the original edition, the newly expanded edition and the audio book as having persuaded Dr. Graham to begin an outdoor rock concert with a prayer. Dr. Graham has said that this was a life changing experience for him, offering his first glimpse at the rapidly changing culture of the sixties and seventies. Norman and Lill had served as Lay Eucharistic Ministers in the Corporate Liturgy and Intercessory Prayer Ministers of Christ Episcopal Church in Nacogdoches, served as a guest preacher in the absence of the parish priest until his health declined and he could no longer participate. He also served as a United Methodist Minister from 1958 to 1969 in Palestine, Beaumont and Houston, Texas. Norman was a member of the Nacogdoches Citizen's Police Academy and appreciated our officers for the work that they do to keep us all safe. Honors earned by Mr. Johnson were; one of five finalists for DJ of the Year in 1980 by The Country Music Association in Nashville, Tennessee, recipient of seven state legislative proclamations, a noted speaker for Service Clubs, Corporate and local banquets and other occasions, a member of the Texas Broadcasters Hall of fame, and a member of the Reunion of Professional Entertainers and Singers in Nashville, Tennesee. Norman also interviewed or met every American President (except Nixon and Ford) beginning with President Harry S. Truman. He and wife, Lill, co-emceed the 2004 Inaugural Parade honoring Governor Rick Perry in Austin, Texas. Norman was civic minded and was named Citizen of the Year in 2001 by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, was a founder and Field Director of the Nacogdoches/Lufkin Division of the Make-A-Wish-foundation of the Texas Gulf Coast as well as a member of The Board of Directors of the foundation for fifteen years. He had served one term on the Texas Elections Advisory Board by appointment of Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry and under the administration of Gov. George W. Bush. He also served as President of the Nacogdoches Adult Learning Center for many many years. Norman chose his field of work wisely, for anyone who ever met Mr. Norma R. Johnson, he liked to talk and talk alot he did, even if he no longer had a microphone. This biography was written several years ago, but it shows what an amazing life he lived. Mr. Johnson is surved by his loving wife of 21 years, Lill Mayes-Johnson of Nacogdoches, Texas; daughter, Melissa Ann Johnson Rinehart and husband, Eddie of Nashville, TN; sons, Norman Ray "Bucky" Johnson, Jr. and wife, Bridget of Tyler, Texas, Shelby Lane "Pacer" Johnson of Etoile, Texas and Jason Havard and wife, Mona of Lufkin, Texas; sister, Susan Robertson and husband, William of Gilmer, Texas; sister-in-law, Alice Gragg and brother-in-law, David Mayes and wife, Suzie all of Nacogdoches; ten grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and close friend, whom he knew as a brother, Cletus Harvey; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and other extended family and great friends. Pallbearers will be William Robertson, Sr., Bill Robertson, Eddie Rinehart, Bucky Johnson, Pacer Johnson, Jason Havard, David Stallings and Devin Rinehart. Honorary pallbearers will be Cletus Harvey, Mike Hammock, Casey Monahan and Joe, Karen, Keith and Kasey Lansdale as well as members of the East Texas Motor Cycle Enthusiasts. Visitation with the family will be Sunday, January 26, 2014, from 5-7 PM at Laird Funeral Home. To offer condolences or to sign the register book online please log onto www.lairdfh.net

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