passes away July 26, 2001 after a courageous battle with cancer

Jay Lynn Johnson, Jr., born September 7, 1938, in Houston, Texas passed away on 26, 2001, after a short but courageous battle with cancer. A man of remarkable insight and extraordinary compassion, Jay never declined to share his wisdom and good humor while lending a sympathetic and understanding ear. His tragic loss is made no less painful by the wonderful treasures with which he left us. He was the proud founder, President, and spirit of Celebration of Texas Independence Day, Inc., giving true life to his Texan pride through means by which all Texans can share his passion for the Lone Star State’s rich history and traditions.

A devoted Austinite, Jay graduated Austin High School in 1957 and attended The University of Texas at Austin. He never shied from the opportunity to use his unique talents for the benefit of his community, having served as City Councilman, and Mayor Pro-tem City of Austin, President of the Austin Jaycees, Chairman of the Central Texas March of Dimes, President of the Austin Restaurant Assoc., Chairman of the Texas Metropolitan Conference, President of the East 6th Street Conservation Assoc., and Board Member Travis County Appraisal Review Board. Jay received numerous awards and well deserved recognition, including Austin’s Outstanding Young Man, 1970, selected as one of 2000 Men of Achievement, Leadership Award March of Dimes, Austin Heritage Society, Texas Restaurant Assoc., Associated Building Contractors, and the Austin, Texas, and United States Jaycees.

Truly a Renaissance man, Jay’s exceptional common sense and acuity took form in numerous successful enterprises that served to better Central Texas. He founded Jay Johnson Enterprises, Inc., real estate and investments, while a mere lad of 20. Over a span of two decades, Jay also owned and operated a number of Austin restaurants known for their hospitality and good eats. An influential and guiding member of the area’s building and construction industry, Jay spent the better part of four decades creating or improving Austin landmarks as well as businesses and residences for ordinary folk. Jay’s hobbies and interests included Texas history, traveling the world from pole to pole and points between, especially in Germany to trace his roots, celebrating Octoberfest, and spoiling his 4 feline sidekicks, Shorty, Oso, Dottie and Peaches.

But all of these remarkable accomplishments are dwarfed by the exemplary love and kindness with which Jay devoted himself to his family and friends. Jay’s Texas-sized heart enabled him to bring peace and meaningful aid to those in trouble, while smiling as if it were nothing more than ordinary. Even more, he was the pillar upon which the entire family relied for guidance and shelter, never letting life’s misadventures interfere with his ability to provide for those in need. The void he leaves will not soon be breached. But we rejoice in his gifts and the example he set so vividly, living life to the fullest without ignoring those less fortunate. The devastation for his family and his innumerable friends of his untimely departure will gradually give way to the comfort of his lessons. We will honor him by striving to follow his lead.

Jay is survived by his loving and devoted wife Marsha Ellen Johnson, his four children Julie Anne Stearns, Jan Laura Johnson, Jay L. Johnson, III, and James David Johnson; his four stepdaughters and their families. Jay was preceded in death by his parents, Jay L. Johnson, Sr. and Ida Louise Breil.

The family wishes to express its sincere gratitude to Drs. John Whitaker and George Brown, the wonderful staff of St. David’s Hospital and the Austin Cancer Center for the devoted and caring attention Jay received during this most difficult of all of his battles.

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