Ross and Dee Johnson donate $15,000 to name rooms in new BMH in tribute of parents and physician
Madison native and Insurance Agent Ross Johnson and his wife Dee made a $15,000 gift to the new Boone Memorial Hospital in Madison. The Johnsons are naming a patient-visitor waiting room located just inside the main hospital entrance in honor of his parents, Reed Marvin Johnson (deceased) and Julia Ann Loud (Judy) Johnson. In addition, they are naming a physician and staff break-room located in the Emergency Department in tribute to former Boone Memorial Hospital physician and State Senator, Dr. David E. Wallace.
“I’m at the point in my life where I felt I should give something back to the community I came from and also recognize my parents and their life in Madison,” said Ross.
“My parents were hard working and extremely generous, traits I try to emulate. They raised their family in Madison. In addition to our immediate family, they helped and cared for several extended family and community members over the years.”
Judy didn’t work while married. However, widowed at age 55, she decided to go to work shortly after her husband’s sudden passing. Judy was the first employee of the Boone County Housing Authority and became the first manager of Black Diamond Arbors, a facility she remains very proud of. She eventually became Executive Director of Boone County Housing Authority, a position she held until retiring at the age of 82. Her career was commemorated by Governor Joe Manchin when he honored Judy as a Distinguished West Virginian.
“I was nineteen and three weeks out of my first year at Marshall University when dad died suddenly and mom went to work. Our circumstances were very limited but she sacrificed and persevered to get me through college,” said Ross.
Judy, now 88, resides at Charleston Gardens, where Ross and his brother Wayne visit her almost every day. Drew visits from Atlanta as often as possible. Three of Reed and Judy’s sons are deceased; James, Richard, and Robert (Pete).
The Johnson family has deep roots in West Virginia. The first Johnsons arrived in Monroe and Nicholas Counties in about 1770. Ross is a 7th generation Johnson in West Virginia. Reed was born and raised in Fayette County and came to Madison immediately after WWII to marry Judy in October 1945 at the Madison Methodist Church. During WWII, Reed served in the United States Navy as a Boatswain’s Mate in the South Pacific.
Judy was born in Gordon, where her father, Larry Loud, worked for Detroit Mining and the Y&O Coal Company.
Reed spent most of his career working on coal prep plants for various coal companies in Boone County, including Y&O Coal, Eastern Associated Coal, Pittston, and Cannelton Industries. Reed suffered a fatal stroke at age 59, the day after working a double shift at the Indian Creek plant owned by Cannelton near Drawdy Falls in 1982.
“My father was the most generous and hard working person I’ve ever met. He was also a charter and life member of the Madison VFW Post 5578 and President of the UMWA Local Union #1460.”
According to Ross, their family ties to Boone Memorial Hospital are many.
“Boone Memorial Hospital has been at the center of many major life events in my family. My grandmother, Ethel Loud, died in October of 1964 at Boone Memorial, the year the hospital opened its doors. The day my father had a stroke the ambulance took him to BMH to be stabilized before transfer to CAMC. I remember the staff taking great care of me when I broke my arm in the 2nd grade, one of several childhood injuries or illnesses that required a visit to the hospital.”
The Wallace family has been close the Johnsons for many years. Ross commented: “Bonnie Wallace, Dr. Wallace’s mother befriended my father right after he moved to Boone County in 1945. Through her, our family became close to the Wallaces and I remain close to Dr. Wallace’s two surviving sons to this day. Dr. Wallace was a talented and dedicated doctor at Boone Memorial for his entire but short career. His dedication to the well-being of the people of Boone County deserves to be recognized.”
Ross specifically wanted to name a waiting room to honor his parents. He explained that while his mother would be visiting various extended family members, he spent what seemed like an endless number of hours in the front lobby of the 1964 BMH building. A couple of those deceased Boone County residents are Judy’s aunt, Delina Shannon and Kathleen (Kitty) Pearson.
Ross currently resides in Charleston where he owns an independent insurance agency – Mountain State Insurance Agency. Ross graduated from Scott High School in 1981 and Marshall University in 1985, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Insurance.
“My mentor in the insurance business was Ridgeview native Ed Gaunch. I worked for him for 12 years at Carson Insurance Agency. I went into business for myself when I was 37 and I’ve worked hard to build my own insurance agency. I have 20 employees and we have a state-wide commercial insurance practice with a focus on public works construction contractors and the natural gas business.”
Ross’s wife, Dee, is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and had a 30 year career at CAMC. They have been married 28 years and have two sons; Taylor, 27, and Will, 25. Taylor is a Marshall University and West Virginia University College of Law graduate and works at his father’s insurance agency. Will is an Ohio University graduate and works at Brickstreet Insurance as an actuary.
In his spare time, Ross enjoys attending Marshall University and West Virginia University sporting events, traveling, and golf. He and Dee are long time members of Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, where Ross has served as a trustee for many years.
Ross was President of the Independent Insurance Agents of WV in 2014 and 2015 and has been active in the Contractor’s Association of West Virginia for many years.
Ross follows in his parents’ footsteps. The same care, concern, and community support he learned from his parents continues.
“I want to continue helping people as much as I can. I hope this tribute to my parents will not only recognize them for years of love and support but in turn contribute to the new hospital and people of Boone County, something they would have wanted.”
The new hospital is scheduled to open this June.
To learn more about the BMH Capital Campaign or the new Boone Memorial Hospital please call Denver Allen, Campaign Director at 304-539-2242 or visit us on-line at bmh.org.