Focus on Frankford: Richard W. (Ned) Johnson

Richard Wayne Johnson (Ned to family and friends) was born on January 29th, 1941. He is 75 today. He is our Veterans’ page founder and primary author of the Veterans’ stories.

I met Ned through his cousin, Leon Brantley, about four years ago. Ned was skeptical of me at first but he decided to give me the benefit of his advice anyway, since I said I was trying to do something positive for Frankford.

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We sat outside the Meadow House on Paul Street one afternoon and talked all about Frankford and his history here.

He said I should give the Veterans some recognition for their service and then he did something nobody had done up to that day. He offered to do some writing. That was how the Veterans Page was born and Ned has lead the way.

He designed a new logo for the Gazette which I still have but have not used yet. We are waiting for the long awaited format change. He gave me some advice about content which I have used though. People want more pictures and fewer words. That was true and the change was done.

Since that time we have had many talks. On more than one occasion, I have walked on Frankford Avenue with him and it is impossible to go more than a block without meeting a half dozen people who he knows or is related to in some way.

He grew up in Tacony, attending Disston Elementary, Mastbaum and Lincoln High. He enlisted in the Army right out of high school and proudly served in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.

In civilian life, he has been a worker, manager, entrepreneur and publisher. He became involved in managing nightclubs and bars all over the city. He also managed various retail outlets on Frankford Avenue. He published a regional entertainment magazine for a time.

He has always been modest about his talent but he has a gift as a graphic artist. In another life he might have taken art as his vocation. His drawings on wood that he has done over the years should be on display somewhere in Frankford. He also enjoys baking cakes and is called upon often to lend his
hand for family events.

He has had some ups and downs in life and at 75 your health can be a challenge but he never lets anything keep him inside.

He travels down to the VA for his health care appointments on the bus and El. He has spent many happy hours down at the Gallery at 9th and Market talking to his fellow veterans while drinking coffee. That spot had become an unofficial gathering spot for many retired veterans in the area. Recently the Gallery closed for renovations with the loss of that downtown gathering place.

He is divorced, the proud father of three daughters (Rishawn, Tammi and Nicole) and six grandchildren (Anicea, Tiffany, Vontel, Tavon, Elijah and Jarren). He is active at the Star of Hope Baptist Church in Tacony and has spent the last few months working at American Legion Post 224 in helping the new Commander to make some improvements.

When word got out that we were finally doing a story on Ned, everyone had a story to offer. There
are too many to include here but two of those individuals came over to the office and insisted I add something from them.

His friend James (Hollywood) Brooks: “Ned is very talented and educated and he is a worldly man that goes out of his way to help anybody who needs help. I’m proud of his accomplishments.”

His cousin, Leon Brantley: Thank you for all the years of friendship. You have listened to all of my tales and helped me a lot. Most important, you helped me to help others. Happy 75th birthday!

He has been a very active supporter of the Frankford Gazette and the Frankford community. It is an honor to call him friend and we wish him Happy Birthday with many more to come.