Funeral Mass for Gus Johnson, 80, of Greenville will be at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, January 5 at St. Joseph Catholic Church. He died Sunday, January 1 at Delta Regional Medical Center. Burial will be in Greenville Cemetery under the direction of Boone Funeral Home, Greenville.
Gus was born in Greenville, MS to Evelyn and Andrew Johnson. He attended St. Rose of Lima and later St. Joseph Catholic School where he graduated. He was on the first football team to have uniforms. Gus graduated from Ole Miss in 1959.
After graduation from Ole Miss Gus returned to Greenville to join his family’s business, Jims Cafe. Gus loved the cafe and never met a stranger. He enjoyed talking to everyone and sharing his vast knowledge of history, particularly Greek history in which he was proficient and his Greek heritage of which he was extremely proud.
When he wasn’t sharing his knowledge of history he helped solve problems with the Seagulls, a morning group which was founded by Gus, Sam Provenza and Bill Burnley. In later years, the Table of Knowledge lunch group became the hub of problem solving which continues today. Gus always said the problems of the world were solved at Jims Cafe. Gus never shied away from giving his opinion.
In the 60’s Gus enjoyed participating in plays put on by the Little Theater. Kiss Me Kate and South Pacific were two of his favorites. He was also in charge of the Miss Greenville Pageant for a few years and was a Boy Scout leader during that time as well.
Gus was an avid outdoorsman. He loved hunting and fishing, was a member of a bicycle club, often riding 100 miles a day on trips. He was a brown belt in Karate, and was a faithful member of St. Joseph Catholic Church where he served as an usher until he became ill.
It was because of Gus’s pride and involvement in the community, especially downtown Greenville, that he was chosen as King of the 2015 Hot Tamale Festival.
When Gus wasn’t hunting, fishing or solving problems, he found time to develop his own, now famous, salad dressing and hot sauce. He carefully guarded, all but hermetically sealed recipe has been handed down and his legacy will continue.
Gus was honored for saving the life of Ray Gunter. Mr. Gunter had a business next door to Jims Cafe and was being robbed when Gus heard the commotion and ran to Mr. Gunter’s store and stopped the robbery and called for help for Mr. Gunter who had been injured.
Gus was married to Diann Tackett of Greenville. They later divorced but remained close and dear friends until her passing in 2014. Gus was preceded in death by his parents, Evelyn and Andrew Johnson, his daughter, Lori Johnson, his granddaughter, Amanda Smith and his brother, Nick Johnson.
He is survived by 2 daughters, Evelyn Brown of Belzoni, Felicia (Kent) Emmert of Oklahoma City, OK; son, Andy Johnson of Oklahoma City, OK; his grandchildren, Katherine Brown of Belzoni, Jerred (Casie) Brown of Glen Allan, Tom (Katie) Wallis of Beaumont, TX, Leah and Deandra Smith of Oklahoma City, OK, Vanessa Canfield of Austin, TX and Nicole Johnson of Oklahoma City, OK; and two great grandsons, Keller Wallis and George Brown.
There will be a visitation one hour prior to services at the church. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.