This is in honor of security officer Ronnie M. Johnson, an Austin resident, who I met at the Oak Park Public Library. Johnson was one of several friendly but firm security officers I saw and conversed with once a week during my research for my column at the Oak Park Main Library, located on Lake Street in Oak Park.
At his wake Aug. 18, hundreds of mourners packed the Smith and Thomas Funeral Home in Austin to pay their final respects to Ronnie M. Johnson, acclaimed “barbeque” specialist, righteous warrior and divine human being, who died of a heart attack on Aug., 15, 2005. His body was then shipped to his hometown of Shelby, Miss., where the funeral was held at Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church on Aug. 21.
At the homegoing service, which lasted for hours, the local community came out to not only show their gratitude, but also to celebrate the life of a distinguished gentleman whose handsome spirit, unforgettable smile and indomitable presence impacted their lives.
It was a gentle, fitting reminder for those who sat in the pews remembering Officer Johnson. His life was dedicated to service, activism, humanity and love. Officer Johnson was an incredibly down-to-earth stalwart in the black community, who saw all people as divine human beings, complete with purpose, unlimited power and possibilities. He also transformed preconceived stereotypical notions about “stupid, lazy, untrained, security guards” into positives images of distinguished dispatch security officers.
Born on Oct. 23, 1965, in Shelby, Miss., to Dave Butler and Mrs. Arthur Lee Johnson, Ronnie M. Johnson was the youngest of 13 children. Both his parents, along with five brothers and one sister, preceded him in death. Johnson leaves to cherish his memory: his fiance for 15 years, Regina Davis; the love of his life, his daughter, Stephanie M. Johnson; two brothers, five sisters, and a host of relatives and friends.
One of Officer Johnson’s co-workers at the Oak Park Public Library, Officer Norma J. Robinson, remembered him in her moving and soul-stirring poem, about the life of a security guard on duty:
Security In Silence
This is Officer Day,
Checking in at the ABC Library at 1330 hours.
Thank you ,Officer Day,
I have checked you in at 1330 hours.
Have a pleasant day.
Ring, ring, ring …
ABC Library, Officer Day speaking.
Hello, Officer Day,
This is the police calling about elevator #1
Would you check it please?
Sure, elevator #1 is all secure.
Be advised that U.P.S. is at door #1.
Be advised that the mailman is at door #2.
An officer is needed in the youth section.
Be advised that I just buzzed in the vending machine man at door #3.
Where do I pay my parking ticket?
Downstairs, sir, at the pay station machine.
Thank you, Officer Day!
Would you notify maintenance that there is a huge water spill in the computer lab?
This is Officer Day, checking out of the ABC Library at 2114 hours
Thank you, Officer Day,
Have a good night.
Dedicated to the memory of: Security Dispatch Officer Ronnie M. Johnson (1965 -2005). You are not forgotten. We’ll miss that smiling face.