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A life well lived
John Emory Johnson, 88, of Kerhonkson, NY passed away after a brief illness on Sunday, May 23, 2021 at Kingston Hospital. John was born at Veterans' Memorial Hospital in Ellenville, the son of Deyo Way Johnson and Ellen Hazel TerBush Johnson.
He happily grew up in the idyllic days of old Ellenville in a spacious mansion on Maple Avenue, also the home of other members of the Johnson family, principal owners of the William H. Deyo Lumber Company, an important Ellenville business since 1869. Founded in 1936, a satellite company, Marvin Millwork, was the largest distributor of Marvin Windows in the Northeast. As major employers, these businesses formed a vital part of Ellenville's history.
An excellent student, young John was Valedictorian of the Ellenville High School Class of 1950. He graduated with honors from Cornell University in 1954, with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He was active in the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and the Cornell Men’s Glee club. Following his ROTC scholarship at Cornell, he joined the Army during the Korean Conflict, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant between 1954 and 1956. Upon honorable discharge, he joined the William H. Deyo Lumber Company and acceded to President for eleven years until 1966.
He married the former Judith Misner at the Ellenville Reformed Church in 1956. They had three children: Daniel, Amy and Meredith. He later became Executive Vice President/Finance of Marvin Millwork until his retirement in 1990.
Among his other accomplishments, he was Treasurer of the Ellenville Reformed Church, past President of the Ellenville Noonday Club, a 20 year board member of the Fantinekill Cemetery Association and an original member of the Ulster County Planning board.
In 1981, following his divorce, he met his husband to be Marshall Berland. They spent the next forty years together, travelling the world from Outer Mongolia to Rio de Janeiro, Australia, Mexico, Italy-- from Venice to Palermo, Denmark to Hawaii, staying in the great chateaux of the Loire Valley of France. Both retired for the last thirty years, they wintered on a private beach in Barbados for ten years before moving to Bonita Springs, Florida in 2000.
Proud of their love, they were an out gay couple from the outset, pioneering as one of the country's first same-sex marriages on May 24, 2004 (Marshall's parents' anniversary), with daughter Amy as Matron of Honor and her husband, Andy Talbot as Best Man in a nineteenth-century gazebo in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He died on the eve of their seventeenth anniversary.
They lived at Faun Hall, their 200 year old center-hall colonial house in Kerhonkson, featured in House & Garden in 1968. Spending their time tending their magnificent garden as well as attending musical events throughout the region and world.
He was a loving husband, grandfather of Daniel's children Daniel E., Sarah Beth (Martino), William and Sandra (Lawrence). He is also survived by his eight great-grandchildren: Noah Lawrence Johnson, Nathaniel Deyo Johnson, Charlotte Bernadette Martino, Harper Lillian Martino, Jeffrey Allen Martino III, Kayden Martino, Clarissa Marilyn Johnson, and Melody Elizabeth Johnson.
Universally loved and respected, he was recognized for his kindness and intellect on diverse subjects and as a brilliant photographer-- particularly of flowers from their garden and his ability to "get the shot" of friends and family at social gatherings.
Funeral services will be private.
John was a strong advocate for tolerance and understanding. Memorial contributions may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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