The Life and Legacy of Bill Johnson


written by Mark W. Smith, CVA, volunteer resources manager

When Bill first came to us back in 2001, he was a spry 77-years-old and looking for his next challenge. Bill was assigned a kitchen assistant shift on Tuesdays, and never looked back.

He was always the first one in the door, making coffee for his crew, welcoming everyone in as they arrived — and telling jokes to keep things fun. Bill also knew his friends well, inquiring about activities or health issues they might be going through, and always offering words of wisdom.

We know one thing for sure: While Bill loved coming in every week to Project Angel Heart, regardless of what circumstances he might be facing, chocolate may have been #1 in this world, next to his wife Margaret, of course. Volunteers would take turns bringing in treats every week, and Bill would delight in new and delicious confections with his friends, complimenting them on their skills and ideas. Volunteers would send gifts of chocolate to his home, and that made him very happy!

We often heard volunteers comment that if Bill can make it in the entire crew should be able to get there, so nobody ever called out for their shift — because if they did, they would hear about it!

Bill was one-of-a-kind! Here are a few words from his friends:

“Bill always had a smile for everyone on the Tuesday morning crew. He told stories and listened to stories; plus, was a role model for me to enjoy all of one’s days.” – Jean B.

“Bill – What a work of ‘HUMAN ART’! Lover of chocolate, always willing to share his strong opinions, best coffee maker in the world! 😊 And most of all, he was a real piece of sunshine every Tuesday morning when you would see him sitting on his stool ready to go!” – Betty L.

“Bill and I did a lot of laughing. His wife Margaret ended up at the same eye clinic with some issues with that we both came to be challenged with loss of vision. Bill never forgot to ask how I was seeing each week. He loved chocolate. I was able to get a Vietnamese baker to create a wonderful cake for his 96th birthday. I brought it to PAH for the break. He thought it was beautiful so he took it ALL home with him. It was a great smile for the Tuesday group. 

I started calling Bill, and a week and half ago, I talked with him. He told me, ‘Boy, do I like that chocolate that you send.’ I sent him chocolate from Dietrich’s chocolate. Margaret was kind to call [and let me know] of Bill’s passing. She said the last thing he ate was the chocolate. What a perfect ending to a beautiful life.” – Dennis O.

“Bill’s dedication to Project Angel Heart was an inspiration to everyone that knew him. He was a faithful volunteer; he was always the first one here on Tuesday morning, greeting all his fellow volunteers as we arrived. I looked forward to his cheerful smile and giving him a hug before we started our shift. Bill was a lover of all things sweet, especially chocolate! I will miss you Bill!” – JorgeAnn S.

“Bill loved us and we loved him. He also loved our parties and chocolate treats for breaks. One of Bill’s outstanding characteristics was his genuine interest in each person he met. I will miss his presence in my life.” – Joann S.

Bill was 97-years-old when he passed away earlier this month, but he leaves a legacy of kindness, determination, and – of course! — chocolate lover. Thank you, Bill, for being the best you could always be, and for inspiring so many volunteers to continue in your footsteps.