PEKIN ~ The Rev. Gary Lee Johnson, 50, of 2224 Mayflower Drive, passed away at 9:51 p.m. Sunday, January 15, 2006 at Pekin Hospital.
Born January 4, 1956 in Peoria to Charles and Doris Houser Johnson, he married Rev. Jan Castegnaro Virbickis on January 9, 1988 in Pekin. She survives.
Also surviving are his mother, Doris Proehl of Pekin; one daughter, Christina Virbickis of Morton; one son, Dang Johnson at home; one sister, Kathy (Dr. Craig) Fenton of Peoria; one niece, Jennifer (Patrick) White of Littleton, Colorado; one aunt, June Reed of Peoria; and three cousins, Randy, Ken, and Jan Reed.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents.
Gary graduated from Pekin Community High School in 1974, Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and later from the Christian Theological Seminary of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1999 with a Master of Divinity degree.
Gary worked for Great Central Insurance Company in Peoria from October 1978 to August 1995, last as state filing manager. He then served as the associate pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Pekin from July 1, 1996 to December 31, 2000. Since January 1, 2001, he has served as the pastor of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Pekin.
He was currently serving as president of the United Way of Pekin, where he was past assistant campaign chairman and later campaign chairman. He was a member and past president of the Pekin Area Ministerial Alliance, where he was serving as its representative to the Pekin Christian Civic Outreach. He was a member of Pekin Civic Chorus since 1978. He was former coordinator for the Pekin CROP walk for several years, had served on the Association Council for Western Association, and was a former board member of the Pastoral Counseling Service in Morton.
Gary was a gifted singer who touched many with his music. He also enjoyed fishing, golfing, and gardening.
A celebration of the life of The Rev. Gary Lee Johnson will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, January 22, 2006 at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Pekin. The Rev. Jan Johnson, Rev. Dr. John Noonan, and Rev. John Buttrick will officiate. The family will receive friends following the service at a luncheon at the Pekin Moose Lodge. Cremation will be accorded.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Preston-Hanley Funeral Home, Pekin Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Congregational United Church of Christ, 2200 Willow Street, Pekin, Illinois 61554 or to Holt International Children's Services, Post Office Box 2880, Eugene, Oregon 97402.