Willie “Weaks” Johnson was born on July 16, 1949, to Mrs. Mamie L. Johnson and the late Mr. Willie Johnson Jr. in Helena.
Willie “Weaks” Johnson was born on July 16, 1949, to Mrs. Mamie L. Johnson and the late Mr. Willie Johnson Jr. in Helena. He confessed a hope in Christ at an early age. His grandfather baptized him under the auspices of the First Baptist Church of Midland Heights.
Willie “Weaks” Johnson departed this life on March 25, 2010.
Willie “Weaks” graduated from Eliza Miller High School, class of 1970, where he was an athlete. He received recognition for his talent in playing on the Miller High School basketball team. After high school, “Weaks” joined the Army and fought in the Vietnam War. His memories of the war included battles in Saigon and along the Ho Chi Minh trail. His service in the military afforded him extensive international travels. He received an honorable discharge for his service.
After his discharge from military duty, he came home to Helena for a short period and then moved to Kenosha, Wis. After several years, he returned to his hometown of Helena where he remained until his home going. He retired from the Corp of Engineers and became a community volunteer.
Johnson was known as a community volunteer. He was a founding member of the Habitat for Humanity of Phillips County Board of Directors and worked tirelessly in helping to identify the first family helped with a home. As a Habitat volunteer, he served as a daily guide for many mission teams and work crews who came to assist renovating homes in the Phillips County area. He proudly wore sweatshirts and caps sent to him by teams after they returned to their home communities as tokens of their appreciation for his friendship and help. Derek Horton, a youth leader from Ohio said, “Our fondest memories of Helena are those times when Willie was advising us and praying with us.”
His greatest volunteer initiatives came with Walnut Street Works, better known as Common Stride. He raised money for and conducted winter coat drives to help some of the children attending the Helena-West Helena School District. His impetus for the coat drive came from his heart being tugged by seeing some children going to school without coats during the cold days. That same caring heart led him to put together a “uniform drive,” where he assisted the students in need to get uniforms for the then newly required uniform policy by the Helena-West Helena School District.
He exclaimed the pride he felt as he observed the children dressed in uniforms. He shared that “they looked so good” as they got on the school bus each morning. He also implemented school supply giveaways to help some of the Helena-West Helena School District children. He also helped Walnut Street Works implement community forums, making sure the grassroots citizens attended and had a voice in the issue at hand.
Willie was a volunteer coordinator for the annual Martin Luther King Parade. He also assisted in securing donations of food to share with the children participating in the parade.
Johnson volunteered with the Community Connector Program of the Tri County Rural Health Network. He raised funds and secured donations of food and other supplies for many of their special events, such as “Tri County Day.”
He was officially recognized as “Community Volunteer of the Year” by Mayor James F. Valley at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Walnut Street in 2007. He had launched the annual Thanksgiving dinners on Walnut Street several years earlierwith local businessmen J.B. Hall and Darnell Jones, raising funds for the food and obtaining turkeys. The Thanksgiving dinners will continue in his memory, and will be named in his honor.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving mother, Mrs. Mamie L. Johnson, who was his caregiver throughout his illness. He leaves his brothers, Jodie Johnson of Helena and Emmett Johnson of Pine Bluff; two stepsisters, Dorothy Davis of Conway and Lorraine Carter of Little Rock; three aunts, Myrtle Franklin and Mary Harris, both of Kenosha and Cotney B. Hale of Kokomo, Ind.; three nieces, Brittney Taylor of Little Rock, Emily Johnson and Tamara Johnson of Orangeburg, S.C.; a very dear friend, Willie “Dub” Franklin of Helena; and a host of cousins, friends, and a community he truly loved.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, April 3, 2010 at the Phillips, Lee, Monroe and Desha District Center at Helena Crossing. Rev. Larry Edwards will officiate. Burial will be at Oak Grove No. 1 Cemetery in Helena-West Helena. Visitation will be Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Stephens Funeral Home chapel in Helena-West Helena.
Stephens Funeral Home will direct services.