William Johnson; 1948-2013: Electrician, farmer raised hogs


FOREST, Ohio — William Johnson, an electrician and farmer who acted as an advocate for those who raised Hampshire hogs, as he did, died Tuesday at his home in Hancock County’s Van Buren Township. He was 65.

Cancer was diagnosed more than four years ago and he had been doing well after treatment, his wife, Jacki, said. He remained a director of the Ohio Hampshire Association and attended a board meeting in December, but developed a blood infection in April, his wife said.

Mr. Johnson worked for St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, for 23 years, retiring in 2012. He oversaw the hospital's construction projects, often as a bridge between St. Rita's executives and architects and contractors, his wife said.

“He had an objective mind,” his wife said. “He was very fair, but he believed you do a job, you do it right the first time, and that way you’re not wasting anybody’s money or time.”

He’d been a journeyman electrician through Local 32, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and worked for Reynolds Electric, both in Lima. In the 1980s, he was an owner of J and J Electric, which did projects for area churches, schools, and communities.

Mr. Johnson grew up on a farm that had hogs and began raising them when he was 10, his wife said.

The couple were active in the state Hampshire association and for years jointly held the title of secretary-treasurer. At the Ohio State Fair, they coordinated classes and ran shows and sales. They were inducted into the state fair’s Swine Hall of Fame in 1998.

“They were very instrumental and positive in promoting Hampshire hogs in the state of Ohio and across the country,” said Dave Runyan, director of swine shows at the state fair. “Bill was a very hard worker and organizer.”

Mr. Johnson’s wife said: “We were totally a team, and everything we did, we did together.”

Locally, the couple were longtime 4-H advisers, and the young people in their club learned how to care for, groom, and show livestock. He was a former president of the Hancock County Extension advisory board and was a former county junior fair swine superintendent. He’d been secretary of the pork producers’ councils in Hancock and Allen counties.

Mr. Johnson was born Aug. 7, 1948, to Norma and Howard Johnson and was a 1966 graduate of Cory-Rawson High School, where he was an all-state football running back and baseball catcher. He attended Ohio State University, where as a freshman he played baseball and was on the football scout team. He also played baseball in the Army and served in Korea.

Surviving are his wife Jacqulynn “Jacki” Johnson, whom he married Nov. 28, 1970; sons, James, Michael, and Gregory; mother, Norma Johnson Starr; brother, Richard, and 11 grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Sunday in the Crates Funeral Home, Arlington, Ohio, and after 10 a.m. Monday in Good Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arlington, where he was a member. Services will begin at 11 a.m. Monday in the church.

The family suggests tributes to the church of the 4-H endowment.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.