Obituaries: James ("Jim," "Jimmy," "Jimmie") Charles Johnson

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday June 12, 2024
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Reverend James ("Jim," "Jimmy," "Jimmie") Charles Johnson
Reverend James ("Jim," "Jimmy," "Jimmie") Charles Johnson

October 23, 1934 — May 16, 2024

Reverend James ("Jim," "Jimmy," "Jimmie") Charles Johnson left the planet peacefully on May 16, 2024. He was surrounded by his chosen family at the Manor, his home in San Francisco since 1975. He was 89 years old and will be dearly missed.

Jim was born on October 23, 1934 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma to Laura "Charlene" Britten and Roy Johnson. He grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma; Long Beach, California; and Joplin, Missouri. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Doris Setser and John Britten, and his great-aunt and great-uncle, Inez and Gene.

Jim will be remembered for his captivating stories, larger-than-life personality, and the community he cultivated. He displayed extraordinary style through his colorful suits, spiffy shoes, and abundant home decor. Always crafting and collecting, Jim filled his home with spoons, coins, stained glass lamps, homemade walking sticks, and artwork from his world travels. He sought joy everywhere and found it easily while tap dancing, vacationing on a cruise, or attending a Broadway musical.

Jim was a lifelong swing and tap dancer, who in his 70s became a beloved fixture of the Metronome Dance Center's productions in San Francisco. Jim performed in the "Dance-Along Nutcracker" and in the "Gray Cabaret" at the iconic Castro Theatre. He was groundbreaking during his military career for producing a rendition of "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" for benefit shows, in which he cast the Andrews Sisters as three male officers, in full drag.

His motto was "Thoughts become things," which he regularly followed with "choose the good ones!" Jim had a strong spiritual framework and was active at Unity San Francisco. He believed that people visualize the world they ultimately live in, and he wanted people to give each other a chance to heal and grow in community. With that in mind, Jim dedicated much of his energy toward being of service. He was a frequent diner and supporter of Delancey Street, a residential self-help organization, where he befriended and mentored many program participants.

Jim self-published a CD compilation and four books covering the topics of introductory statistics, the state of joy, hypnosis, and celebrating life. In addition to his eclectic passions and pursuits, Jim held academic distinctions in various fields. He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering, a Master of Business Administration, a certification in hypnotherapy, and ordination as a reverend in "A Course in Miracles." Throughout his life, Jim worked as chief chemist at Atlas Powder Company, naval officer in the US Navy, systems analyst at Matson Navigation Company, statistics instructor at Golden Gate University, educational services officer at the Oakland Army Base, and manager of five residential properties in San Francisco.

Jim is preceded in death by his partner of 15 years, Eddie Pendergrass; ex-wife, Eleanor Winant; and many chosen family members, including Jere' Marcum and Polly Gilmore. He is survived by his cousin, Brian Johnson, and members of his chosen family, including: Stephanie Almeida, Kathy Burnett, Juan Cornier-Velez, Dona Cupp, Ken Daigle, Helen Ebon, Patrik Gallineaux, Mauro Hernandez, Kirill Keleev, Mary Lace, Julie Lawlor-Nigro, George Love, Faustino Martinez, Helen Marquez, Christopher Rennacker, and Taylor Whitehouse.

A celebration of life extravaganza will be held at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, October 27, honoring what would have been Jim's 90th birthday. All friends and family are invited to attend. On October 23, there will be a private scattering of Jim's ashes. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Delancey Street Foundation, an organization that Jim held very near to his heart.

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