Elmer Cranford Johnson, Jr., 80, of Givens Estates in Asheville, passed away Monday, June 26, 2017.
A native of Fairfield, AL, he was the son of the late Patti Thomas Johnson and Elmer Cranford Johnson, Sr.
Cranford is survived by his wife of 53 years, Othella Gardner Johnson; two sons, Matthew Thomas Johnson and Nathan Howard Johnson (Anne Zondolo Johnson); one granddaughter, Mary Grace Morrow-Johnson; two sisters, Pat Schrimsher Cook (Connie Cook) and Katrina “Tina” Johnson Harden, as well as several nieces and nephews.
In Birmingham, AL, Cranford attended Woodlawn High School, loved public speaking (according to his sister Pat), was on the debate team, won an oration contest, was in Thalian Dramatic Club, National Honor Society, Christian Fellowship and attended Boys State. At Birmingham Southern College, he was in Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, sang in the college choir and worked with church youth groups. He graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory University where he served on the Student Council. He was a chaplain to Methodist students at Duke University and led two summer student work camps on the East coast of Nicaragua. Most of his career was at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts as Director of Counseling, then as Chief Student Affairs officer. He enjoyed reading, stimulating conversations, participation in the Association of Couples for Marriage Enrichment (now known as Better Marriages) and shared with Othella in leadership of workshops and support groups. After retirement, he enjoyed dressing in his tuxedo and taking tickets and greeting guests attending productions of UNCSA students at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem. He loved the arts -- music of all kinds, dance, drama, films and affirmed the hard work of the students, faculty and staff. He will be remembered and he will be missed!
Two Celebrations of Life and Liberation will be held, the first at 2:00 PM on Sunday, July 16 in the Norma F. Pulliam Chapel at Givens Estates (100 Wesley Drive, Asheville, NC 28803) and the second at 2:00 PM on Sunday, July 23 at the Parkway United Church of Christ (2125 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, NC 27103). The family will receive friends following both Celebrations.
If you would like to make a donation in memory of Cranford, please contribute to the “Making Space for Unknown Angels” project to enhance Parkway UCC for a Mission-Focused Future. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that, some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
In accordance with Cranford’s wishes, his body was donated to the Genesis Legacy Program (genesislegacy.org) at the Medical Education and Research Institute in Memphis, TN. Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian assisted the family with local arrangements.