David L Johnson Jr.

It’s with broken hearts we announce the sudden passing of David L. Johnson, Jr, 61, on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Born on February 28, 1961 to David L and Norma R Johnson in Columbia, South Carolina.
David is survived by his wife Mary K. of 34 years, three daughters: Jennifer Lee (Jesse) White, Leslie Anne (David) Thomas and Kelly Marie (Bruce) Scott, (grand) son by love Brian K Stellon and granddaughter Daphne Thomas. His loving parents David and Norma Johnson, favorite brother Stephen (Priscilla) Johnson, favorite sister Margaret Beth (Alf) Gill, beautiful nieces Emily Gill, Laura Gill and Charlotte Johnson and handsome nephews James Gill and John Gill. Many aunts, uncles, cousins (first and second) to each he referred himself as “their favorite”.
David was known to many by a variety of nicknames of which he would proudly answer to. At Carolina Nurseries he was Vern. The HSOA (Harley Springer Owners Association) he was Batdog. To Brian David became his beloved Batman and finally Bat to which many daughters and sons-in-law followed suit.

David Graduated from Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC and Clemson University Clemson, SC with a degree in Horticulture.

Pursuing a horticulture career, along with 8 fellow co-workers David “Bought the Farm” from Amfac renaming it Carolina Nurseries in Moncks Corner, SC where he called home for more than 28 years as a sales representative. David’s love for Horticulture was nothing less than amazing. Known for his salesmanship, integrity, knowledge, memory as well as the ability to calculate math quickly in his brain in seconds. David could give you discounts, pricing, freight, landed numbers without blinking an eye.

David met one of his customers in person at a trade show. The day after their meeting, during a cruise aboard the Spirit of Norfolk cruise David loudly announced it was his intentions to “marry her”. He knew immediately she was the one. After a brief long distance relationship spending weekends of travelling back and forth between South Carolina and Virginia, David drove the “silver bullet’ to Virginia bringing his future wife home to South Carolina. Eleven months later on May 29, 1988 he wed Mary K, his
partner in life for 34 years. The same day David welcomed three step daughters into his life becoming an instant family as they settled into family life in their home on Isle of Palms, SC for decades.

David was musically talented playing both piano and guitar. Many times you would find David playing the theme song from Charlie Brown on the piano with the girls, (Jennifer, Leslie and Kelly), dancing round doing the Snoopy dance or playing his guitar to B32’s, Robert Palmer or ZZ Tops greatest songs as the home crowd went wild singing, dancing and make believing rock stars as the music echoed throughout the house. David wouldn’t let a birthday pass without having to break out his guitar inventing the newest original hit song “It’s Your Birthday Baby” never sung the same way twice. Many times after the girls had moved away he would continue the tradition over the phone. That was David’s
personalized celebration for each child. If you ever had the pleasure to ride through a tunnel in an automobile with David, he was famous for singing the song “Black Slacks” to replace the radio silent. After a long day on the Atlanta, Ga trade show floor if Karaoke was available David would request Sea Cruise singing it many times on bended knee entertaining friends, clients and complete strangers.

David’s life transformed with the birth of Brian. The devotion, love and bond between them that form minutes after Brian’s birth that came full circle at David’s untimely death. Early on Brian bestowed the greatest name to David – Batman. In the blink of an eye David became the cape crusader. David’s greatest mission in life was to provide a lifetime legacy for his special son. And to occasionally ride one of Brian’s motorcycles.

David’s interests were just as diverse as the man. Having a passion for Wrestling, well, because it was real. Especially for the superstar Rick Flair. We quickly learned what Atomic Elbow drops were, especially at bedtime. Off the top ropes, and clothes lines were only a few of his favorite play time moves. We knew it was coming when the strutting, styling and profiling was accompanied by the sound of “Woooooo Daddy!” finished off by the his hand swiping of the hair. The girls would join David on the sofa for the weekly match that would end up with the sound of laughter from all. Maybe an elbow drop or two. David was always full of the Three Stooges antics especially when least expected. The comical side of David would leave his family rolling with laughter followed by a few snorts. A good Chess match or game of pool with our neighbor Jack Mauldin was a weekly event for years. Fishing, gardening, sailing both the Sun Fish and the WaveRider, Flying kites on the beach, Bee keeping, enjoying a good Clive Cussler book, star gazing, and motorcycles were just the top of his long list of interest and hobbies.

A funny (now it is) story that leads up to the purchase of his first Harley Davidson goes something like this – travelling home after a visit to Virginia David wanted to stop at a Harley Davidson dealership along I-95 in NC. Arriving close to their closing time David asked if he could look around. He sat on a few Harleys as the lot men started bringing in, closely lining up the motorcycles for the evening. Due to height variations on different makes and models he struggled getting on and off some motorcycles due to, quite frankly, his short legs. The last one he dismounted the kickstand slipped on the dealership’s floor setting off an unfortunate chain of events that only lasted seconds but appeared to all in slow motion. Yes. The motorcycle tipped over just enough to brush the next one in line creating domino effect that brought down many. David could have walked out knowing the dealership’s insurance would cover the damage but instead, the honorable man he was, purchased a Harley on the spot that became known as “Babette”. She was quickly followed by the acquisition of his beloved Springer “Black Betty”. It was her who introduced him to The HSOA family who welcomed him with open arms. As they say, the rest is history.

However life is known to throw unkind twists and turns into the best laid plans rearing its ugly head with the closing of Carolina Nurseries. Not letting the closure end David’s long term love, devotion, relationships and expertise in the closely knit nursery industry, he partnered with his wife, Mary, to form the independent company, Johnson Horticultural Sales, until his untimely death.

As life journeys change, David knew it was time to move off the island and start a new chapter. Tiring of driving longer distances for sales calls, hurricane evacuations, traffic, noise as well as the stream of weekly renters David knew it was time to move away. Literally throwing a dart at his sales territory Tennessee suit his plans. Scouring hundreds of listings every day for six months including sixteen trips to various cities David, Brian and Mary were about to call it quits for the remainder of 2019. David and Mary had travelled to Maryville and Alcoa, Tennessee the weekend before Thanksgiving looking a
houses sometimes selling on the way to view them, hitting more dead ends. Deciding they have had enough began packing ready to return home when Brian called with one more house to look at. I remember breaking through the clearing with David excited exclamation “THIS IS IT! THIS IS OUR HOME!” Thankfully it became did our home. “We bought the farm!” David would enthusiastically tell family and friends. David was making plans. Dreams, ideas, plants, bees, chickens, orchard – he had a vision, a new journey with endless possibilities. Life was good…

…then Covid. It changed the world but it also noticeably changed David too. While back on the island closing up the house David got deathly ill. Due to quarantine restrictions, he had to suffer through it alone until he felt well enough to come home. Less than two months later illness struck again not as severe as the first but set him back. March of 2021 he developed ‘Drop Foot’ which devastated David. It only slowed him down but David never allowed it stop him. Meanwhile the chickens, geese and ducks became his outdoor enjoyment. Briefly David saw relief in his walking gate but then one after another
after another of unexpected twists reared its ugly head -news that stunned David to his core. These were simply unfathomable and insurmountable blows to David. He had the strength to overcome obstacles in the past, now he was questioning his future. When David’s health began to decline in December 2021 his wife, Mary, returned to work outside the home with Brian assuming more responsibilities.

Home alone on June 1st David went to let the chickens, ducks and geese out as he would often do when Mary and Brian were at work. He’d call them up on the front porch feeding them treats throughout the day bragging he had “girls eating out of his hands”. Something happened after opening the first run, David’s family doesn’t know what or why and may never have the answer they seek. Arriving home in early evening from work David’s son, Brian, found him at the steps outside our home calling the paramedics and his wife, Mary, at work to just come home. Brian held David’s hand for the final time for
the police had him step away. The cause of death is currently undetermined.

David has left behind a long list of lifetime friends and colleagues for whom he truly valued, loved and admired. For decades you were his extended family, support, holder of his hands in times of need but most importantly David’s friends. David cherished each relationship with greatest of respect and fondness. Mary wants all to know you touched his life and made a difference for just not David but his family.

David’s final wishes were to be cremated and his ashes spread. Due to current circumstances, this will take place in the future. His son, Brian, is organizing a motorcycle memorial ride for David’s final ride.

Please note: Jill Sliker has established a GoFundMe page for David’s family.

Posted in Obituaries.