Wicklow Sailing Club and Wicklow Toastmasters have paid tribute to the late John Johnson, a ‘charismatic character’, with a ‘quirky sense of humour’ who was instrumental in making the two thriving organisations what they are today.
The founder of Ashford-based Johnson Building Systems died on December 3, 2022, leaving a lasting legacy in both groups, who are still coming to terms with the loss.
He was a past President of Wicklow Toastmasters and they honoured his significant contribution by dedicating half of their first 2023 meeting to remembering what he achieved.
John’s son Simon took to the stage to speak, with all acknowledging his late father as a charismatic character with a welcoming and friendly nature.
He enjoyed getting involved with all the club's activities and was instrumental in keeping the club afloat during its lean years. He was extremely popular with members and had a knack of making everyone feel included and welcome in a way that will be sorely missed.
He had also been a member of Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC) for 35 years, serving as House Chairman, Commodore, Chairman of the Round Ireland Committee, President, and Trustee.
WSC member Charlie Kavanagh said that what made him stand out was his “can do attitude”.
"Problems were never an issue for him,” said Charlie. “They just needed a solution to be found, which he more often than not managed to solve. He brought his years of experience with Johnson Building Systems to help with many areas within the club, principal being the construction of the outdoor deck, the envy of many a club.”
With his wife Kathleen, John was instrumental in completing a major renovation of the clubhouse through the business they founded together in 1982, JBS. They also played an important role in bringing on board the Royal Bridge Club, valuable tenants for many years, and John notably negotiated recurring sponsorship by BMW.
Among many prominent events he was was associated with were the Round Ireland Yacht Race, the hosting of the twinning ceremony of Wicklow and Portmadoc Town Councils and the civic reception for the skipper and 60 crew of the reconstructed Viking longship “Sea Stallion of Glendalough” on their visit to Wicklow.
"His quirky sense of humour, his connections with the business and other communities and his ability to get the best out of volunteer members all contributed to the years of service John gladly gave to Wicklow Sailing Club,” remembers Charlie.
“Not many members passing through a club leave a physical footprint of their time there – we will always have the deck to remind us of John.”
Both clubs and all their members have expressed sincere condolences to John’s family, including wife Kathleen, children Kevin, Derina and Simon, and grandhchildren Liv, Annabelle, Jack and Luke.