The Heart of Kernersville: Gray Johnson

By NJ Clausen

As you go through life, have you noticed that there are some people who bring a smile to your face whenever they are near? The person who always has a sincere greeting and a kind word each time you meet? Allow me to introduce you to one of those people…Gray Johnson.

Gray was one of twin boys born to Charlie and Clara Johnson in Winston-Salem. He developed a work ethic early, harvesting tobacco when 8 years old, then at 13 years of age he was working on a milk delivery truck. He would start work at 4AM and would be finished by 10AM. Those were the days when milk was delivered in glass bottles to homes and either brought inside and put in the refrigerator or deposited in a special box outside the door that would keep it cold. As Gray grew older, other jobs included working at a grocery store and driving a school bus. It was not all work and no play… Gray fondly remembers trips to the beach with his Dad and fishing off the pier.

In 1963, Gray moved to Kernersville with his first wife. In 1966, Gray was drafted into service and reported to Fort Bragg. This was the time of the Vietnam war and the expectation was that you would be serving in that area. Gray received Advanced Military Police Training, and instead of heading to Asia he was stationed in Illinois, then to Germany. He was discharged and returned to Kernersville safely as a member of the Reserves. After his time in service, Gray developed a problem with alcohol and his marriage was a casualty. Gray is willing to talk of this dark time as he was set free from this destructive affliction and will share his story if it helps even one other person shake free from the bondage. Gray gives all the credit to God and is grateful to the people who were put in his life to lead him to God and liberty. Gray had grown up in a Christian home, but through a neighbor who brought him to a Men’s Conference and subsequent attendance at church services with a woman who would later become his wife, Gray developed a closer relationship with God and was able to break the hold of alcohol over his life.

Gray has always been a hard worker and has also volunteered a great deal of his time to help others. In addition to his career in real estate, Gray was a member of the Jaycees, is a member of the Shriners and had volunteered at the Shepherd Center. Gray had been looking after his mother for over a decade before she passed and had also been bringing various residents of Kernersville to different medical appointments. He felt called to go through Hospice training and considers this to be one of the most rewarding endeavors of his life. A bit reluctant at first, as it takes a special type of person to be with someone at life’s end, Gray discovered the peace that comes to both when able to be with someone who might otherwise be alone and perhaps afraid. Hospice also includes different types of care (for example, Palliative Care), where the person can make a full recovery as well as tending to those in Nursing Homes.

As his father passed at a young age, Gray has exercised faithfully in the form of walking. For many years Gray would get up and out early to walk several miles. In the fall of 2010, as he was walking, he felt his heart do a hard THUMP-THUMP. As it passed without pain, he did not pay much attention and continued his walk. The following spring at a routine doctor appointment, Gray remembered the incident and related it to the doctor. Tests revealed a blockage, and a stent was put in. Two and a half years later, when experiencing shortness of breath, the need for a pacemaker was determined. Through all procedures, Gray has maintained a positive attitude, firmly placing his trust in God.

When asked what he would like to share with his friends and neighbors, Gray responded that since living here, growing to love and meet such great friends, he wanted to let them know that he cherishes them and prays for them daily. He says that he is so blessed and would not move from here for anything! So many people have helped him along the way, and he appreciates anything that anyone has done. Gray reminds us that we are NOT all alone.

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