Fond Remembrances of Bobby and His Lasting Legacy of Wilson Park

Robert Wilson Johnson

Robert Wilson Johnson
1930 - 2018
Through the prolific Heiskells, I have many favorite cousins. Bobby Johnson is certainly among them. My first real remembrances of Bobby and his parents, Robert and Ella Wilson Johnson, is when we needed to go to Knoxville to shop or to the dentist. Robert was frequently our ride as he went to his job as Treasurer of Winter Garden Frozen Foods. Later, the Johnsons moved to Fountain City so Bobby could attend Central High School. My grandmother Heiskell and Bobby’s great grandmother were sisters–Sarah McClain Heiskell and Emma McClain Chesney, so the families stayed close over many, many years.

Bobby graduated at The University of Tennessee, and he and his wife Lora Jean travelled the world for the United States Department of Agriculture as an Agricultural Economist estimating the value of coffee crops. I always regretted that my husband Sam and I did not visit the Johnsons in some of those places because we could have flown free–that is called Opportunity Lost.

At Bobby’s retirement the East Tennessee hills called and Lora, Bobby and family retired to Lora’s homeplace and farm on Belt Road at Knoxville. We frequently talked family, friends, Union County and history. Bobby shared much news, history and stories. I will miss him terribly. He and Lora were generous with their time, knowledge and resources. Their gift to Union County of the land for Wilson Park [part of Bobby’s grandparents’ (Hazy Wilson) farm at Maynardville] is a tremendous and lasting legacy.

Bobby was a fan of jazz music and they regularly frequented jazz concerts. Bobby also had a great sense of humor. Here is one of his many good stories:

Sgt. Char!es O. “Charlie” Hickle served in the United States Army more than 30 years. He was from Union County; and, when he retired about 1940, he and his wife Margie returned to Union County and bought the Marsh property (which now lies between the old and new highways 33 where the Baptist Association and the Masonic Lodge buildings now stand.) Sgt. Hickle was a real individual. He maintained his place in tip-top shape, flew the American flag in his front yard and drove an A-Model Ford until he could no longer drive. He had strong opinions on a great many subjects; and, when Hazy Wilson, his neighbor across Highway 33, died in February of 1942, he came to the wake and was voicing his opinion on a particular subject to Elmo Johnson. Elmo tired of listening and went into the kitchen to partake of some cake. Sgt. Hickle followed him and continued to voice opinions and eat cake. When Sgt. Hickle had his mouth very full of cake, Elmo said: “They bought themselves a dog.” Sgt. Hickle exploded and blew cake all over the kitchen. He then went into the room where Mr.Wilson’s body was and asked Elmo’s brother Robert: “Who is that fool in the kitchen?” Robert said, “Must be Elmo. I didn’t know he was here.”

I’ll be looking for you, Bobby, at that homecoming in the great beyond! For now, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Johnson family.

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Rev. William Darrell Brewer

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Linda Sue Wilkerson

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