James Curtis "Big James" Johnson Sr. was born April 1, 1943 to Samuel and Thelma Johnson in Maplesville, Alabama. At an early age he was baptized and accepted Christ at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Maplesville, Alabama. People often thought that he would become a Preacher because of his love for the Lord. He believed in helping people and would do anything for anybody, especially children and elderly. He would do things like go get their grocery lists and get their groceries for them, stepping in doing anything to help. James would shadow his father feeding hogs, cutting wood, and driving tractors.
In the early 60's, he moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where he met his wife, Bernice Stephens. On October 31, 1964, James and Bernice married and this year would have marked their 57th wedding anniversary. In late 2005, James and his grandson joined Turner Chapel A.M.E. Church. His love of driving tractors as a child led to his goal to own his own truck. He achieved that goal when he became an Independent Owner Operator, which allowed him to travel to 48 states and visit family often. Never had an accident, and could tell you how to get anywhere, all while sitting at the kitchen table. With conversation, filled with colorful language, James would command the room with his character and charisma. There was never a dull moment. He could meet a complete stranger, and after 5 minutes of talking with them, he would tell that person their entire family history. He knew everybody and everybody loved "Big James". He was many of his nieces and nephews favorite Uncle. Many would come over just to be told how much they didn't know nothing, what to do, and how to do it. Even after you did what he told you, you still didn't do it right. You needed to "Listen and Learn". James will be remembered for his many stories, sharp, vivid memory, sense of humor, but most of all - his love.
James leaves to cherish his memory his loving and devoted wife, Bernice Johnson; son, James (Nita) Johnson Jr.; two daughters, DeeAnn (Kenneth) White-Gardner, Regina (Tarik) Peterson; three siblings, Willodean McCary of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Rudolph and WJ Johnson of Alabama; 11 grandchildren; three great grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel and Thelma Johnson; two brothers, Ira and Dolan Johnson; three sisters, Versa Jordan, Shirley Jones, Annie Bell; and a grandson, JoeVonn Johnson.
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