OSTEEN, Fla. — Bennie O. Johnson, 84, of Eagle Point South, Kove Estates, Osteen Fla., and formerly of Plattsburgh, N.Y., died on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, following a battle with cancer and spending his final days with family.
He was born May 26, 1928 in Richmond, Va., the son of Benjamin "Bennie" Elias Johnson and Mary Agnes (Ozlin) Johnson.
Bennie attended Manchester High School in Richmond before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1946. Following his initial discharge in 1948, he graduated from Manchester High School in 1950, and then served in the U.S. Naval Reserves before re-enlisting that same year in the newly renamed United States Air Force (USAF). Mathematically adept, Bennie specialized in radar operations and telecommunications, and his assignments placed him around the world, including the Philippines, Morocco, plus locations across the United States, amongst others. He discharged from the USAF honorably and retired from active service in 1969. That same year, he married the love of his life, Marie E. (Morgan) Sullivan, a widow, and they married in Plattsburgh. Shortly thereafter, he laid down the foundation for his new company, Ben's Communications, and guided its growth into the dominant New York North Country two-way radio and emergency services telecommunications company with offices and employees in Plattsburgh and Canton. He later sold to a downstate concern and retired for a second time in 1986.
Besides being a veteran and entrepreneur, Bennie was a Shriner, and a keen supporter of children's charities, including the Shriner's Hospitals for Children, and St. Jude Children's Hospital. In his spare time, he enjoyed mathematical and technical problem solving and often used this skill in teaching others for their own empowerment. Ben readily volunteered his time, an activity he put to good use in his new home in Kove Estates, Osteen, Fla., a retirement community where he served in a number of leadership roles, surrounded by supportive neighbors that he was proud to claim as friends. A lifelong traveler, with his retirement he pursued his love of recreational vehicles and road travel, mixing them with a retiree's passion for golf. Each year, Bennie could be found cruising North American roads from Florida to Alaska in search of the perfect fairway and the smoothest green, and teed all 50 United States, plus Canada and Mexico on the back nine of his retirement career.
Bennie was a beloved friend, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and enjoyed understanding and tracking the lives of those he loved.
Bennie was predeceased by his parents, his wife, two sisters, Sallie L. (Johnson) Enoch and Frances (Johnson) Whelan, and a brother, Layton J. Johnson.
He is survived by a brother, Martin L. Johnson and his wife Jean, of Richmond, Va.; a sister, Mary B. (Johnson) Smoot of Roanoke Rapids, N.C.; three children from a first marriage plus five stepchildren and a child from his second marriage and their respective families; Steven J. Johnson of San Antonio, Texas., L. Kay Parrish of Winterville, Ga. and her two children, Arthur Joiner and Tallesin Parrish. William T. Johnson of Marietta, Ga., John M. Sullivan of Vancouver, Wash. and his daughter, Ashley M. Mattox. Patrick J. Sullivan and his wife, Constance Sullivan of Plattsburgh and their children, Patrick, Jr., Michael, and Enya. Nora C. (Sullivan) Maurer and James Maurer of Riverside, Calif and their three children and greater family; Melissa M. Maurer and partner Ryan Myer and their two children, Cade and Colton; Nina M. Maurer, and Dylan J. Maurer. Margaret M. (Sullivan) Hopson and husband Randall J. Hopson of Flagstaff, Ariz. and their two children, Samantha M. Hopson and Chadwick J. Hopson. Daniel C. Sullivan of Vancouver, Wash. Aaron B. Johnson and his wife Ana M. (Ortiz Navarrete) Johnson of Manhattan.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Kove Estates Club House in Osteen, Fla. Burial will be with his deceased wife in St. Peter's Cemetery in Plattsburgh in early summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital.