Gerald (Jerry) Leroy Johnsonage 73, of Battle Creek passed away peacefully after a long hard-fought battle with cancer on Thursday, March 19, 2020 at home surrounded by family.
Jerry was born in Battle Creek on October 21, 1946, the son of Clarence and Clara Nelle (Snelling) Johnson. He was a lifelong Battle Creek resident and a member of the Class of 1965 at Battle Creek Academy. After high school graduation, Jerry moved to Loma Linda, California where he attended Loma Linda University and earned a culinary certificate.
While in California, he was drafted by the United States Army in 1966 and was deployed to Vietnam in 1967, during the Tet Offensive and dutifully served as a medic. While performing his duties, Jerry was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor in April 1968 for heroism by entering a heavy fire area while on the front line to cover a wounded comrade with an armored vest and hauling him to safety. Jerry was honorably discharged in June 1968 and returned to Battle Creek and soon thereafter, as he said, "the luckiest day of his life" met Marie Mrak, his lifelong love on Friday, September 13, 1968.
Jerry married Marie Ann Mrak on September 4, 1970, at St. Joseph Catholic Church. He was preceded in death by his father Clarence. Surviving are his beautiful bride of 49.5 years, Marie (Mrak) Johnson of Battle Creek; son Paul (Aimee) Johnson of Waxhaw, North Carolina; son Robert (Nicole) Johnson of Battle Creek; son Tim (Nickole) Johnson of Portage; son Don Johnson of Battle Creek; grandchildren Zachary, Juliana, Nathan, Tyler, Rylee, McKenna, and Sam.
In addition to his wife, sons, and grandchildren, Jerry is survived by his mother Clara Nelle (Snelling) Johnson of Battle Creek, Patricia (Forrest) Walter, Barbara (Rodney) Hyde, twin brother Harold (Lori) Johnson, and brother-in-law Bill (JoAnn) Mrak, and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Jerry was a member of Local Union 669 for almost 50 years working for various fire protection companies as a sprinklerfitter. After retiring from Local 669 in 2010, he took classes to become a massage therapist where he mostly practiced with family and friends. Jerry also spent a few years as a Red Cross instructor.
Jerry was active in volunteering in his sons' schooling, athletics, and Boy Scouting. He was instrumental in the revitalization of Boy Scout Troop 325 in Battle Creek in 1989. Jerry was Scoutmaster for Troop 325 for several years and helped many scouts earn their Eagle Scout rank. He served St. Philip Catholic Church for several years by singing and playing guitar for masses. Jerry honorably served on the Friday Fort Custer Honor Guard from October 27, 2010, until he was unable.
Jerry was a very loving husband living his vows every day through service and action. He took very seriously his commitment to his wife and family choosing to lay his life down for them in a totally selfless manner. He was passionate for helping his sons to become the best versions of themselves by showing them to be the best men, fathers and citizens possible. Jerry was highly devoted to God by living his Catholic faith as a great example to all he encountered.
A private Funeral Mass for the family will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Please do not send flowers, but prayerfully consider a memorial contribution to St. Joseph Catholic Church, Boy Scout Troop 325, or the South Michigan Food Bank.