Father. Family. Faith. Those were the tenets that guided William P. “Pat” Johnson in his 90 years on God’s Earth. On January 7, Pat left us to enter God’s Kingdom of Heaven to cherish the peace he prayed for and aspired to.
Pat is survived by Sharie, his beloved wife of 37 years, his sisters Shirley Nicholson and Fran Johnston, sons Mike (Sharon), Dave, Steve (Jan), and his daughter, Sue (Jeff) Shupe. His step-son, Tim (Susan) Stump, and step-daughters, Tammy (Seth) Watkins and Tracy (Chris) Bullock and the children of his heart, Roy and Mesu Andrews. He also leaves behind 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren that he loved dearly, plus friends far too many to count around the world . His brother Jim and his sister Lorraine preceded him in death. All will miss having Pat in their lives but are comforted by knowing he is now in his heavenly home.
Pat lived a long, happy life, one full of hard work, adventure, joy and love for his family and friends. Born in St. Charles, Ill., he had lived in the Syracuse-Nappanee-Goshen area since 1969. He grew up in Frankfort, Ind., and began earning money as a golf caddie, developing a love for the game that he passed on to his kids. Unfortunately, he didn’t pass on any helpful golf skills, leading to endless rounds of golfing ineptitude, though we all laughed and had great fun playing together.
After a stint in the Navy, Pat earned an engineering degree from Purdue University, and a master’s degree from Syracuse University.
During his engineering career, he worked for a range of companies in California, North Carolina, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, and Chicago. He began a long association with the RV industry in 1969, operating a van conversion division of Coachmen Industries. A brilliant leader and innovator, his expertise successfully transformed it into Viking Formed Products, a leading producer of fiberglass products.
He was elected president of the American Composites Manufacturing Association and developed several patents along the way. Pat retired after 25 years with the company, but found it unfulfilling, especially with his lack of golf skills. So he and some other industry veterans formed Noble Composites to supply parts to the RV industry. This endeavor also proved successful, and Pat finally retired for good.
On December 19, 1981, Pat married the love of his life. Together with Sharie, he fully accepted God in his life, and thus had a new purpose upon retirement. To take the place of his golf game, Pat traveled the world to perform mission work on behalf of the First Brethren Church of Nappanee. He brought kindness, compassion and care to those in need in India, Kenya, the Philippines, Cuba and other countries.
Throughout his life, Pat made many friends wherever he went. He and Sharie loved constantly entertaining friends and family at their home on Lake Wawasee, and at their winter getaway in Venice, Florida.
Pat and Sharie enjoyed taking cruises, crisscrossing the oceans together, taking in the many splendors of the world. And always, Pat treated every day as a gift, and was able to find the humor in any situation. He always had a sly quip, pun or joke at the ready. His humor, always tinged with gentle compassion, brought a smile to all those fortunate to be in his company.
A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, he passed on his love of the team to his family. Much like his golf game, that passion caused decades of misery and heartache. However, that made it so much sweeter when the Cubs won it all in 2016. Pat proved to be a good luck charm by attending Game 5 of the World Series, which the Cubs won, helping them go on to the championship for sweet redemption at last.
And that’s’ what he did – he charmed one and all with his endless love of life, family and friends, with his tremendous sense of humor, his strong, unwavering faith, and his compassion for everyone he met. His was a full life that was truly blessed, blessings shared with all he touched. We will miss you always Pat, but we know you’re happy and at home in heaven.
A viewing will be held from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11, at Thompson-Lengacher and Yoder Funeral Home in Nappanee. Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 12, at the First Brethren Church of Nappanee, beginning at 11 a.m., followed by internment at South Union Cemetery and a fellowship gathering at First Brethren. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Elkhart County Youth for Christ at elkhartlifeline.com.