SIDNEY – With the passing of July 1, the Sidney Knights of Columbus, Council 659, both started its new year, and made history at the same time.
On that day, R. Michael Johnson, son of the late Dick and Shirley Johnson of Sidney, was re-installed as Grand Knight – exactly 50 years to the day after his late father took the reins of the local council.
Dick Johnson served as Grand Knight of the Sidney Council in 1969 and 1970. His son has been Grand Knight since July 2017.
“The highest honor my brother Knights could bestow on me – aside from conducting my final services upon my death – is to allow me to serve as Grand Knight and follow in my father’s footsteps,” said Johnson. “To be able to serve exactly a half-century after Dad is truly an honor and blessing.”
To add to this, the younger Johnson is also in charge of the “Dick Johnson Memorial 300 Club,” a monthly give-away that helps fund scholarships for graduating Catholic seniors.
“As an added bonus, this past year, I was able to preside over the transformation of the fund that Dad, and a lot of great men before me, helped start,” Johnson said. “That fund is now completely self-sufficient, thanks to the 300 Club. Because of it, the Sidney Knights of Columbus will be able to award scholarships in perpetuity – long after all of us are gone.”
Johnson said he remembers his mother – who was a cook at Lehman High School – and his father, an auto parts salesman at Dunson Supply and Dixie Auto Parts for decades, preparing the tickets and mailings every year when he was much younger.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be the one to announce that because of a lot of people’s efforts – including Mom’s and Dad’s – this scholarship program will continue forever,” said Johnson.
Johnson, who spent three decades in journalism throughout the country, returned to the Sidney area about six years ago to assist in care decisions for his mother, who passed away in 2017. He has since engaged in professional elder care.
“About six months after I came back to town, I contacted a member of the Sidney Knights of Columbus to ask about joining here, Johnson chuckled. “His answer was ‘it’s about time.’”
“One of the neatest things I found while going through some old photos was one of me in 1973, sitting on Santa’s lap at the K of C Christmas Party,” Johnson said. “I now have the exact same photo from 2018 of my granddaughter at the same party. The Knights are about service, faith, family and tradition.
“And, what better way to carry on that tradition than to continue my father’s legacy as Grand Knight.”
Dick Johnson was a member of the Knights of Columbus, from 1960 until his death in 2004, transferring from Bellefontaine to Sidney in 1966. He was also a Fourth Degree Sir Knight – as is his son. Both men were (and are) members of Holy Angels Catholic Church in Sidney.
The Sidney Knights of Columbus, Council 659, was established in 1902.