Monday, July 13, 2015

Tribute to an Internet Friend

I never had the chance to meet Eden, North Carolina, resident George Randall “Randy” Johnson, who died yesterday at age 65. But we exchanged a bit of correspondence over the years, about both politics and books, and as far as I’m concerned, he made the announcement of his passing in exactly the manner a longtime blogger should: by posting a farewell message in Not the Baseball Pitcher, the blog he’d been writing ever since at least May 2008.

Headlined “It’s Been Fun,” his final note explained:
By the time you read this, I will be gone. My health is not what it should be these days, the result of a lifetime of doing all the wrong things.

I just want to take the time to say good-bye to those of you out there I’ve come to know in the internet land. I’ve never met any of you and never expected to, but I consider you friends and hope you do the same. The same likes and interests brought us together.

It made my life better to a degree to follow your blogs each day, to laugh or cry at the things you posted on, to participate in discussions on various subjects. My disability kept me confined to the house for the most part. I can go in my car on a limited basis to any place where I didn’t have to get out (kind of limits destinations, though). Mostly it is just trips to doctors.

I live alone. Family members or friends call or come by every day to help out (I don’t know how I’d have made it without them), but I’m alone most of the day. So mostly my world consisted of books, my computer, and television in that order.

One thing I’ve missed the last few years is going to the brick-and-mortar bookstores. My little town had a Waldenbooks, but it closed a few years back, and there are no others, not even a used store. The nearest city with bookstores is thirty-eight miles away. It has the usual chains and a couple of independents as well, though bookstores in general are slowly starting to disappear.

The internet and Amazon made it possible for me to get books delivered here. That was only good for things I knew about, though. That stumbling across the occasional little gem was a thing of the past except for all you folks’ blogs. Especially Patti Abbott’s Forgotten Books on Fridays. That brought a wealth of new finds for me (I wish I could have afforded all of them). But I found recommendations from all of you that I might never have tried otherwise.

Thank you!

It’s been a lot of fun. I’m saving this post and will have a family member post the particulars when the time comes.

Good-bye to all!
Randy’s small blog always provided a bright spot to my day, whether he was commenting on new books he’d received (and there always seemed to be plenty of those), or Western movies he’d viewed lately, or his favorite musicians. Only occasionally did Randy write about himself or his health (it seems he was diabetic and lost his left foot to infection several years back), yet his posts always reflected his personality, which I found to be spirited, supportive, and generally hopeful. I was aware that he had retired sometime in the past, but I knew few other concrete facts about him or his family until his sister posted this short obituary on his Facebook page earlier today:
George “Randy” Randall Johnson, 65, passed away July 12, 2015, at his home. A memorial service will be held [at] 2 p.m., Saturday, July 18th, at the First Church of the Bretheren in Eden with burial [to] follow in Danview Cemetery at a later date.

Randy was born October 24, 1949, to Billy Ray Johnson and Elaine Radford Burchett in Rockinham Country, NC. He was a member of The First Church of the Bretheren and worked as a clerk for Pillowtex.

Surviving are his mother, Elaine R. Burchett, and [her] husband John of Eden, NC; sister Jean Craven and husband Jacob of Eden, NC; brother Alan Burchett of Eflin, NC; nieces Diane Burgess, Mandy Silvers and husband Allen, Olivia, Hilary, and Merideth, a nephew Tracy Craven, and five great nephews--Ryan, Avery, Zane, Trey, and Gabriel. Preceding him in death are two sisters, Linda Sparks and Sue Lynch.

Visitation will be held one hour prior to the memorial service, from 1 until 2 p.m., and other times at the home of his sister Jean Craven, 801 Hampton St., Eden. Memorial donations can be made to the First Church of the Bretheren: 730 Church Street., Eden NC 27288. Online condolences can be made to
I shall miss reading new posts in Not the Baseball Pitcher (which Randy named to avoid confusion with former sports star Randy Johnson, aka The Big Unit), though I’ll still find pleasure in catching up with his many “forgotten books” posts. And I hope that if there really is a heaven to which people go after they die, it’s chockful of bookstores, because my friend Randy will want to visit those, pronto!


Jerry House said...


pattinase (abbott) said...

Just can't get past this. He posted the day before he died!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Very true. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but his frequent communications --often when Sandi was at a difficult time--were always appreciated. He is very much missed.

Lee Goldberg said...

This comes as quite a shock. Randy and I exchanged many emails over the years and he was a frequent contributor to my blog and my Facebook page. he also was kind enough to give positive reviews to my books and many of those published by Brash. He was an enthusiastic, well-read fan of crime novels. He will be missed.