Rodney Albert Johnson, age 92, passed peacefully at home in Chichester, NH, on February 25, 2023, following a long illness.
Rod was born in Sanford, ME, to Mary (Tabor) and George Johnson and educated in Sanford schools. The eldest of ten children and father to four, his love of family is legend and connects closely with his love of food.
Rodney enlisted in the Navy in 1947 at age of 17, served on submarines, including the USS John Marshall, and earned the highest Naval rank available to an enlisted man, Chief Petty Officer. He was responsible for planning the food and its cooking to assure submarine crews comfort as they protected the fleet from underwater and beneath the frozen Bering Sea. His honorable and faithful service earned him six Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, and he was a member of the Newfoundland Argentia Foreign Legion. Rodney proudly served for 20 years active duty, and ten as a Recruiter.
In 1950 Rodney married Edith Webber. They had 31 years of marriage, many loving homes around the world, including Newfoundland, Newport News VA, and Kittery, ME, finally settling in Concord, NH to raise their four children, Gaile, Gloria, Mark and Terri. Family was everything to him. He was so proud of all of us, and we were many! Together with his siblings’ unions and their progeny there were 157 in the Johnson circle of love.
After retiring from the Navy, Rodney worked as a chef at St. Paul’s School, was a small engine mechanic at Greenland’s, owned and operated Ideal Market, and worked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as a civil servant refurbishing subs, before once again “retiring” – although he was not one to ever sit still for long. He always had a project on hand – repairing or building just about anything, the garden, a meal, and oh so many puzzles! There was always one on a table nearby. He loved to dance and play cards.
Rodney was a 32nd Degree Mason, in the Humane Lodge #21 Rochester NH, holding the perpetual medal and serving in many chairs throughout his Masonic career.
On Valentine’s Day, 2016, he married Helen Phinney-Timmons. How he loved that woman! They shared many wonderful moments at their homes in Bare Foot Bay FL and at the camp on Mousam Lake in Shapleigh, ME. Their homes were full of little love notes to each other “my favorite love story of all time is the one we keep writing together day by day, Your Ever-Loving Husband, Rodney.”
You were always welcomed into his home with food and laughter and the best bear hug. Dad was a wonderful chef, carver of turkeys, made THE best gravy, and was a lover of potatoes. You never went hungry, always a gingersnap or banana bread offered when you visited.
Dad was loved by everyone he met, always leaving a smile behind. His sense of humor was epic, his laugh contagious. He gave us a wonderful gift of that belly laugh and smile just hours before passing. His last words as we were telling him how much we loved to hear that laugh and see that smile, how much we loved him was “I love you more,” his signature verse.
He was Son, Brother, Father, Uncle, Papa, Great-Grandfather and Great-Great-Grandfather, and friend to so many. He was dedicated to sending birthday and Christmas cards to each and every Johnson on that family list, as well as his many friends. “These people are a part, not of the book they’re written in, but of his heart.” You never knew what kind of card you would get, always worth a smile or chuckle, and for us kids, his “4 little birds” they were signed “Your Ever-Loving Father, Rodney”. His wish was that we write “I just can’t quit” on the remaining cards! No truer words were ever spoken.
Rodney was predeceased by his parents, brothers Francis, Richard, Ernie and William Johnson, sister Beverly Johnson, the mother of his four children Edith Gove, and their infant son, Rodney Jr.; and his wife Helen Phinney-Timmons Johnson. He is survived by his sisters Patricia Fiske and Sandra Navia and brothers Douglas and Stephen Johnson, his 4 children Gaile Nugent, Gloria Krochmal, Mark Johnson and Terri Voth, and Helen’s children Wesley Phinney, Jr. and Lorrie Phinney-Petersen and their families. His many grandchildren, great-grands and great-great-grands along with nieces, nephews and many, many friends.
The family would like to thank the Veterans Association and Granite VNA Hospice for their compassion, love and care over the last few months.
Rest easy Daddy, we know you and Uncle Richard chased each other up the stairs to heaven.
Arrangements are entrusted to the JS Pelkey and Son Funeral Home, 125 Old Post Road Kittery Maine 03904. Friends are invited to visit with Rod’s family on March 11, 2023 at 10:00 am, where a funeral service with military honors will be celebrated beginning at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, donations my be made in his memory to your local hospice program. Online condolences may be offered at www.jspelkeyfuneralhome.com.