The Joey Johnson Memorial Scholaship
In Loving Memory of My Brother
Joseph Jerome Johnson was known by all simply as "Joey" and was a "big brother" to his siblings and anyone else who needed a big brother. The odds were stacked against Joey almost from the beginning. Joey's military father was killed on the highway in a fiery crash just a few months before Joey's 3rd birthday. His mother was pregnant with her 5th child and was unable to work. The military allotment checks barely paid the bills at their too small house on the poor side of town. There was a lot of love, but not much of anything else.
As Joey grew, he began to realize that he had the power to make things change, to improve things for his family. He mowed yards, tossed papers, and generally did anything that anyone would hire him to do. When he was old enough, he took an after school job and became the main supporter of his family. But working and bringing home money for his family is not all that Joey did. Joey brought hope. Joey's belief in God and goodness kept Joey's heart warm and a smile on his handsome face at times when others could see no reason to smile.
Joey was well known and loved in his small hometown of Overton, Texas. Despite the economic status of his family, Joey was popular. He made good grades and lettered on the basketball team. Joey was a natural leader and believed he should lead by example. In spite of his busy schedule, Joey always found time to be a brother and a friend. He got the kids off the street and onto the basketball court. He lectured them if they failed to do their homework or get to school on time. Drinking, smoking, and bad behaviors were not allowed. Joey made a difference in his community.
After high school graduation, Joey enrolled in Kilgore Junior College. He worked as a cook at the Kentucky Fried Chicken located near the college campus. In September, 1983, the future was looking bright for Joey. He was doing well in his second year of college and was about to celebrate his 20th birthday. But there was to be no celebration.
On the night of September 23, 1983, Joey and 4 of his co-workers were abducted from the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Their bodies were found the next morning, facedown at the end of an oil lease road in neighboring Rusk County. They had been executed after a robbery that netted a mere $2000 for the killers.
Gone. Just like that. Murdered by drug users, criminals the very type of people that Joey had worked hard to keep away from his family and the neighborhood kids. To this date, the murderers have not been brought to justice by man's law. And although 21 years have passed, Joey has not been forgotten. The Overton High School named their gym "The Joey Johnson Gym," and every September the local television stations and newspapers remember the anniversary of this tragic event.
I am proud to say that Joey was my brother and this scholarship is something that Joey would have done if he were still here with us. Through this scholarship, may Joey's spirit of "good will" live on.
God Bless Everyone,