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Dr.Charles Johnson passed away last week. | Eagle Funeral Homes

When former Hillsdale pro­fessor Charles “Chuck” Johnson poured cat food into the bowls lined up on his front porch, he always waved to his neighbors as they strolled by his E. Fayette Street home on warm evenings. After living a life full of love for felines and humans alike, he died at 87 years old on Monday at the MacRitchie North Skilled Nursing Facility in the Hillsdale Hos­pital. Johnson is sur­vived by his wife, Madelyn, and two daughters. He was pre­ceded in death by his son, Steven Johnson, who died in 2004.

“He was kind-hearted and never said any­thing bad about anyone,” said Academy Head­master Kenneth Calvert, one of the Johnson’s neighbors. “He was a sweet, beau­tiful man. He loved the Lord and was just so kind.”

Madelyn Johnson cur­rently is hos­pi­talized at the ProMedica Cold­water Regional Hos­pital and is in touch with her family. She could not be reached for comment.

Johnson started his career at the college in 1988, but he already had begun making an impact in Hillsdale two years earlier when College Baptist Church hired Johnson and his wife to co-pastor the con­gre­gation in 1986. At the college, Johnson served as a lec­turer of soci­ology and a coun­selor to stu­dents, faculty, and staff. He and his wife also team-taught a course about love, mar­riage, and family, which many stu­dents still enrolled here recalled fondly.

As a pastor, Johnson is said to have spoken from the pulpit as per­sonably and effec­tively as he had talked with his con­gre­gants, clients, and pupils.

“He was a great preacher who always, always made sure the gospel was clear,” Calvert said. “That always impressed me.”

Calvert, who wit­nessed Johnson preach many times, recalled how Johnsons often shared the task of writing and giving a sermon. Jok­ingly, the two called this tech­nique a “ping-pong sermon.” One would begin to preach, and soon the other would chime in. On they would go until they reached their con­clusion.

“Some people would think that crazy, but it actually worked quite well,” Calvert said.

Johnson did not only shepherd his own con­gre­gation, however.

Chuck and Madelyn Johnson founded a coun­seling service they ran in their home called named Storm’s Eye Min­istry, which sought to grant peace and solace to pastors in crisis.

“Pastors could quietly stay at the Johnson’s home and get some encour­agement,” said Assistant Pro­fessor of Religion Don West­blade, a friend of Chuck Johnson’s. “I think Chuck and Madelyn really had their hearts in this coun­seling and service kind of min­istry.”

West­blade knew the Johnson family since he pulled into his first home in Hillsdale when he joined the college’s religion department in 1988. Johnson was the first one to greet him, helping him unload his truck. Living down the street from Johnson for several years, West­blade said the Johnsons enjoyed living so close to the college: “They lived just a block away so they could stay involved with college activ­ities.”

Dwelling among so many college kids could take its toll, but Johnson never shied from pro­tecting his neighbors from rowdy partiers when it got too late to put up with loud shenanigans.

“‘We love Hillsdale College stu­dents until mid­night. After mid­night, we love the Hillsdale police department,’” Calvert recalled Johnson saying fre­quently. “That was some­thing he prac­ticed pretty con­sis­tently.”

Senior Spanish major Alexis Pierce took Chuck and Madelyn Johnson’s class on love, mar­riage, and family in fall 2016. Now engaged to junior Joel Pietila, Pierce counted the class among her favorite courses she has taken at Hillsdale and said its lessons have proved invaluable.

“I almost feel like I have a leg up in my mar­riage. I have some tools to go into it. I know that there are phases, there are stages of mar­riage. There are also chal­lenges, but there are also really beau­tiful things that come with each and every stage,” Pierce said. “That was really cool to see played out in their rela­tionship. They cul­ti­vated a friendship that they had and that was really pow­erful. They were very much in love.”

When Hillsdale’s Social Media Coor­di­nator Gianna Marchese ‘17 was still a student at Hillsdale, she took the Johnson’s class the same semester as Pierce.

“Each of their lessons were accen­tuated by the fact that it was a husband and wife teaching the class who had gone to school together and had gotten their doc­torates together and had gone through that whole journey,” Marchese said. “You weren’t learning how to love through a textbook. You saw it right in front of you.”

College Baptist Church will hold a memorial service for Chuck Johnson on Monday, Feb. 26, at 11 a.m.

“Chuck left a very pos­itive impact on the college, on Hillsdale as a com­munity, and on our neigh­borhood,” Calvert said. “We’ll miss him.”