Robert (Bob) E.L. Johnson Jr. was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, a staunch advocate for those in need, and a community leader who loved Commerce and worked tirelessly for the betterment of all its citizens. His death on Sunday, August 13, at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in McKinney marked the end of a lifelong quest to help people wherever he was and the end of his battle against a series of health setbacks that the former Captain in the Army’s Medical Service Corps could not ultimately overcome.
Born on June 11, 1941, in Dallas, Texas, to R.E.L. and Martha Johnson, he never strayed far from his East Texas roots. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from East Texas State University in 1963, shortly before it became Texas A&M-Commerce University. A Master of Science degree in social work quickly followed in 1965 at the University of Oklahoma, and, after his army service at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, he earned his Doctor of Public Health degree from the same school in 1971.
His health background was constantly expanded on, and he was an Accredited Certified Social Worker (NASW), and, among other organizations, was a member of the American Public Health Association and the Association of Mental Health Administrators.
He served TAMUC as an associate professor and director of the school’s social work program (1978-82), worked for the Cigna HMO as a director for mental health, alcohol, and drug abuse services (1984-85), and was Chief of Social Services at Big Spring Hospital (1987-89).
He was an enthusiastic volunteer, speaker and fund-raiser for worthy causes—from numerous health and community related organizations and charity groups, to advising his neighborhood association, helping in a mayoral campaign, and serving his church, the First Presbyterian Church of Commerce, in a variety of roles.
He had many things to be proud of, but his founding and leadership as president of the Commerce Community Action Program (C-CAP) from 2014 - 2022, was perhaps the accomplishment of which he was most proud. During his time as president of that organization, he devoted his service wholeheartedly to helping the people of Commerce.
Over the years, he received many awards and recognitions, including awards from TAMUC for Lifetime Achievement in Social Work and its Alumni Association Golden Anniversary Award. He also received a Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award. His most recent award made him particularly proud—the Citizen of the Year Award presented to him by the Commerce Chamber of Commerce in February, 2023.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Alice “Bunny” Procter; a niece and a nephew.
He married Sherry Johnson, on Oct. 2, 1977, and is survived by her; a daughter, Amy L. Johnson; a son, R.E.L. (Rob) Johnson, III and his wife Paige; two grandchildren, R.E.L. (Roby) Johnson IV and Emmy Johnson; nephew Rick Marek and his wife Frieda; niece Martha Marek and her husband Mark Underkofler; and a cousin, Nancy Nichols Smith and family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to Commerce Community Action Program (CCAP) in honor of Bob. Mail donations to CCAP, PO Box 356, Commerce, TX 78429.