Howard S. Johnson, 76, school bus driver

April 04, 2003|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Howard Samuel Johnson, a longtime Queen Anne's County school bus driver and keeper of the Crumpton Cemetery there, died of pneumonia Sunday at Kent & Queen Anne's Hospital. He was 76.

Born in Barclay, Mr. Johnson was a lifelong resident of Queen Anne's.

Near the end of the Depression, he began working when he was 10 to help his family. At 12, he started helping on the farm of Tom and Estha McGinnis and with their market and produce stand, cutting short his education after eighth grade.

During World War II, Mr. Johnson served in the Navy in the Pacific on a destroyer. Then he returned to Crumpton and made his home with the McGinnis family -- who eventually became his adoptive parents.

He worked at a local restaurant and a grocery store, but it was while driving a county school bus -- which he did for 41 years -- that Mr. Johnson met his future wife, the former Mary Louise Meekins.

"He was my school bus driver," said Mrs. Johnson, who now drives the route her husband had.

Mrs. Johnson knew when she was 9 years old, she said, that she would someday marry Mr. Johnson, who was nine years her senior.

"He was standing in the field with his sailor cap on, and my sister, she said how cute he was," Mrs. Johnson recalled, "and I said, `You're not going to have him because I'm going to get him.'"

They wed eight years later and were married for half a century.

For about 30 years, Mr. Johnson was superintendent of the Crumpton Cemetery -- where he will be buried today after an 11 a.m. service at the Fellows, Helfenbein and Newnam Funeral Home in Chestertown.

"He never stopped learning," Mrs. Johnson said. "He really had the education of a college man. He religiously studied all through his life. He could talk about so many different things, because he was more or less self-taught."

Mr. Johnson also managed the Crumpton Mobil Station until turning it over to his son, Howard Austin Johnson, also of Crumpton.

Mr. Johnson was a member of the Crumpton Methodist Church and Centreville Masonic Lodge.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Johnson is survived by a daughter, Lydia Legg Singh, and a sister, Betty Moore, both of Crumpton; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mr. Johnson also is survived by several half-sisters and a half-brother.

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