Eugene Edward Johnson (Gene), 77, of Vernon, Connecticut passed away at home peacefully on November 10, 2014 surrounded by his family. Born in Hartford, Connecticut to Raymond and Julia Muller Johnson, Gene lived in Manchester before moving to Vernon in 1963. Gene is survived by his beloved wife of more than 60 years, Helen Goss Johnson, his children Mary-Ellyn Johnson Baily and Jeff Baily; Jenifer Johnson Luby and Stephen Luby; Michael Johnson and Diane Carlson Johnson; Helen Johnson Rimsa and Thomas Rimsa; and Jeff Johnson and Nicole Wulterin Johnson; fourteen grandchildren and a large extended family. Gene was predeceased by his son, Raymond Eugene Johnson, in 1993. He is also survived by his loving sisters Valerie McCollough and Janet Kelley. Gene had three passions – his family, playing the piano, and baseball. Blessed with an easy-going outlook, he was able to relax and celebrate the lives of his children and grandchildren. If his children were involved, he never missed a game or a performance. In 1955, Gene was signed by the New York Giants professional baseball team. After eight years in the minor leagues, he retired from professional baseball to raise his family with his wife Helen. A proud baseball father, two of his sons, Mike and Jeff, were signed by professional baseball teams, the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves. A classical pianist, Gene’s piano playing brought joy to many and occasional surprise to some, especially his baseball players. The Hartford Twilight League was hallowed in his household and Gene spent May through August coaching and cajoling players on to many championships. In addition to his three sons and three daughters, Gene was father and brother to hundreds of young men who believed in him enough to pick up their bats and gloves to play ball as the sun set. Two tee-shirts that he has worn for he last few years sum up Gene – one says, “Gramps, you da man!” and “Baseball is Life!” Calling hours will be Thursday, November 13 and Friday, November 14 between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. at the John F. Tierney Funeral Home, 219 West Center Street, Manchester, CT. Donations can be made to the charity of your choice . For online condolences please visit www.tierneyfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Hartford Courant on Nov. 12, 2014