William (Bill) Ashley Johnson, 70, of Chattahoochee, slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God at the McGraw Hospice House in Jacksonville, FL on November 28, 2017 with his devoted family at his side. Bill had been bravely fighting a lengthy illness that included pulmonary fibrosis, a lung transplant, bladder cancer, and kidney failure since 2010.
Bill was born on January 21, 1947 in Smithfield, North Carolina and moved to Daytona Beach, Florida at an early age. He attended the public schools there and was a rambunctious, mischievous child who was known for such antics as putting cherry bombs in the hallway trashcans right before school started and leaving them to explode, “borrowing” the school backhoe and getting it stuck in a perpetual circle around the track, skipping class with his friends, and many pranks. His best friends, Randy and Larry, were frequently co-conspirators in his antics. Bill’s mother threatened to send him to military school often, but he convinced her otherwise and managed to graduate from Mainland High School in 1965. Bill obtained his Associate of Arts degree from Daytona Beach Community College in 1967 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science Education from Florida State University in 1969. During his time at FSU, Bill was a brother of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and served as his pledge class president. His stories about his Pike days were classically priceless and could best be described as identical to the movie, Animal House. After graduation, he moved back to Daytona Beach to teach civics and social studies at his old high school. Two years later Bill returned to FSU to begin graduate school in the renowned history department. While working on his master’s and PhD degrees he was a graduate advisor for the Florence, Italy study abroad program, visited numerous historical sites around Germany and Italy, and served as a graduate assistant to Dr. Philip Cannistraro (his major professor). Bill also traveled to New York City and Washington D.C. to complete research for his dissertation about Fascism and post-WWII Sicily. Even though his dissertation was not completed, Bill maintained a lifelong love of learning and teaching about history. He began working for the Department of Corrections at Apalachee Correctional Institution in 1977 in the education department and retired in 2012 as a classification officer. Bill’s affinity for pranks and antics continued to his workplace, but believe it or not, work managed to get done.
Bill met the love of his life, Jan Dolan, on a blind date that was arranged by their mutual friend, Lars, in 1976. They were married on April 9, 1977 and celebrated their 40th anniversary earlier this year. Their only child, Sarah Kathryn, was born several years later and Bill was forever outnumbered in the house from that day on. He sought to gain the role of “favorite parent” by giving his daughter full access to his credit card, but at a great expense to his bank account. However, he secretly enjoyed it.
Bill developed a love of golf while on the Mainland High School golf team that continued throughout his life. He traveled to Scotland for over 15 years and played at some of the most historic courses in the world. Memorable moments from these trips included playing on the Old Course at St. Andrews (where golf was founded), taking his wife and daughter with him in 1996, and being stuck in the country for an extra week following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Bill also enjoyed riding dirt bikes in his younger days, spending his childhood at the Daytona International Speedway, FSU football, playing Trivial Pursuit, old WWII films, Hamptons Fried Chicken, and comedies Two and a Half Men and Chrisley Knows Best.
Bill was preceded in death by his mother, Kathryn Kirkland Johnson (Daytona Beach, FL); William Brooks Johnson (El Paso, TX); and father-in-law, W.P. Dolan (Chattahoochee, FL).
His survivors include his wife, Jan; daughter, Sarah Kathryn; granddog, Coco Chanel Johnson; mother-in-law, Sarah Dolan; lifelong friends, Randy Harper, Larry Mateka, and Hugh Smith; several cousins; and many friends in the United States in Scotland.
A visitation will be held at the Chattahoochee First Baptist Church on Friday, December 1st from 5-7 p.m. EST. A private burial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made in his memory to Gabriel House of Care, located at 4599 Worrall Way, Jacksonville, FL 32224.
Bill would want everyone to celebrate his life, so enjoy a round of golf, drink a good Scotch, have a hearty laugh, and be grateful for every day you have. May Bill’s memory always be a blessing.
Lanier - Andler Funeral Home in Sneads, FL is in charge of arrangements.