Haviland-Fred Robert Johnson, also known as “Dr. Fred” by many who knew him well, passed away on Good Friday, April 15, 2022. He would have been happy to have died on this day, following in the steps of Jesus, the One he loved so dearly. And his family is confident he had a fabulous Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection with family and friends who have preceded him in death.
He was passionate about loving Jesus and living out his Christian faith from the day of his salvation until his death. He devoted his life to studying the Bible (in Greek much of the time) and trying to deepen his understanding and knowledge of the scriptures. He wrote and published six books about living in conformity to the image of Christ that he happily gave to anyone expressing interest in faith development.
When Dr. Fred was 94, he began working on one final article that God put on his heart to write. This was no easy task because his eyesight was deteriorating and he was having health problems intermittently causing long delays between writing sessions. Earlier this year, he purchased a new laptop computer and was having to learn how to adjust to the new settings on it, causing even more delays in completing the project. But Dr. Fred didn’t complain about those annoyances, he kept faithfully working on the article, expressing hope that he’d find a publisher that would share his insight with everyone who needed it. Last week his daughter, Roxie, typed the article up for him as he continued to edit it to state his theological “discovery” from the Old Testament clearly. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see it published, but this is the kind of determination that defined Dr. Fred and his desire to share his beliefs with others.
Dr. Fred was an avid gardener and he tenderly nurtured his flowers and vegetables with the same enthusiasm he longed to tend to the hearts of everyone interested in spiritual growth. He had a large garden that helped to feed his family while it also nurtured his own soul. It was common for him to put a salad on the table at dinner and proudly exclaim that it had 10 vegetables from his garden in it. When the lot next to his home became available for sale, Dr. Fred purchased it and doubled the size of his garden, adding a small pond and a porch swing nearby. Even in his gardening, he wanted others to know about Jesus’s love and for many years, he planted flowers in the border of his garden that spelled out, “God loves you” for anyone who passed by to see.
Dr. Fred loved his family and he and Esther built their family foundation in alignment with their Christian beliefs. With as much care as he tended his precious plants, he also faithfully watered and fertilized the hearts of his family members by striving daily to pray for each one. He regularly told each person how much God loved them and he expressed his hope for them to love God, too. He often had to do this by phone since many of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren lived away from him. He ended many of his phone calls with sentiments of love, sometimes including a blessing over a family member or occasionally a prayer.
Dr. Fred was born in Vici, Oklahoma to Lee and Nina Johnson in 1926 in their farmhouse out in the country in Dewey County. He attended Haviland Academy in Haviland, Kansas, where he met Esther Ross and the two were married in 1948. They raised five children, Robert Alan (Stephanie) Johnson, Janice Kay (Ron) Harder, John Mark (Cindy) Johnson, Roxie Ann (Lee) Anders and Esther Rochelle (David) Bridges. They had 15 grandchildren and there are currently 26 great grandchildren. Esther May passed away on July 13, 2012, after celebrating 64 years of marriage and Dr. Fred married Merna (Folkerts) on October 13, 2019, at the age of 92.
Dr. Fred valued higher education. He had a BA from Northwest Nazarene College; an M.Div from Asbury Theological Seminary, an MS from Fort Hays State University and a PhD in Educational Psychology from Kansas State University. He was a full-time faculty member at Barclay College (formerly Friends Bible College) for 25 years, 18 years as a professor and 7 years as the Academic Dean. In this role, he planted many seeds of knowledge for students to grow in their faith and beliefs and this gave his life great purpose and meaning.
The funeral will be held Friday, April 22 at 10:00 am at Haviland Friends Church, Haviland with a graveside service to follow in Haviland Cemetery. Public viewing will be held 9:30 – 10:00 am, prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, you may send contributions to Haviland Friends Church, 205 Kingman St, Haviland, KS 67059; Home Again Senior Living, 321 N Main St, Haviland, KS 67059 or Barclay College, 607 Kingman, Haviland, KS 67059, or in care of Fleener Funeral Funeral Home, Po Box 41, Greensburg, KS 67054.