Words of Reflection Phillip Harry Johnson III was born on March 26, 1943, in Wilmington, Delaware, to the late Phillip H. Johnson, Jr., and Helen I. James. His sister Aletha Ramseur preceded him in death. Phillip made his peaceful transition on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. He was 78 years old. Phillip was baptized at Saint Joseph Catholic Church at the age of six. He was known as "Wee Willie" to close family members and "Smut Jr." to those who knew his dad, Smut, a renowned Delaware state pocket billiards champion. As a loving father, Phillip was known as Pops to his boys and called Pop-Pop by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His stepchildren called him Uncle Phil and PJ. Special friends who hung out at the Brown Burton Winchester Park called him Dr. Phil and Main-Man. He was well-loved and fun to be with. He grew up on the east side of Wilmington. While in elementary school, Phillip began playing Bitty Ball with the cadets for the Walnut Street YMCA in Wilmington. To help him advance as a player, his coach, Slue Jackson, provided his first opportunity to excel in organized basketball. His parents were outstanding basketball players as well. Phillip's dad played semipro. Most of the kids on the team became lifelong friends, playing each other throughout junior high and high school. While he was in the sixth and seventh grade at Bancroft, his team won the game against the first-year class at Salesianum. Seeing that Phillip was very skilled, Father Kenny recruited Phillip to go to Salesianum the following year. Phillip was an outstanding basketball player for Bancroft and was acknowledged as one of Bancroft's Top 100 Players in 2017. Salesianum School in 1958 was a Roman Catholic independent school is located in Wilmington. Salesianum was the first racially integrated school in Delaware four years before the Brown v. Board of Education decision. He served as captain of the basketball team during his senior year at Salesianum. Several articles in the Sports Section of The News Journal noted his ability to make sound judgments and quick decisions. Coach Hagan acknowledged Phillip as the leading scorer, top rebounder, and best defensive player, totaling 524 points in 2 seasons. Phillip was also a skillful and robust swimmer on the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association Swim team, following his dad's footsteps. Upon graduating from Salesianum School, Phillip attended A & I Tennessee State University and befriended Cassius Clay before becoming "the greatest" and changing his name to Muhammad Ali. Phillip hobnobbed with three-time Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph. He joined the Air Force in Security Forces Division and was honorably discharged from the military in 1967 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. He worked as Inspector in the Quality Control Department at The Bendix Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri. He met Shirley, who also worked at Bendix in Quality Control, performing administrative duties. He jokingly told her that he was checking for defects in civilian and military aircraft avionic equipment to pave the way for her airline career. Their relationship spanned over five decades. Phillip was a jazz enthusiast, and he enjoyed taking his mom for a ride on his Vespa scooter along the Brandywine River, serving as First Mate for his mom and dad while they cruised on the Delaware River on Miss Shing, their 40-foot yacht. As his dad's health began to fail, Phillip returned to Delaware to take care of his dad and work as an independent retailer in the Beer, Wine, and Liquor Store Industry. Before relocating to Saint Leonard, Maryland, Phillip worked as a Blackjack and Roulettes Dealer in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During his final days, we would listen to his music. I recall him patting his feet to the sound of jazz organist Jimmy Smith while lying in bed as Smith played Caravan Remastered 2007 from the Album Live at Club Baby Grand in Wilmington. He would meditate while listening to Mahalia Jackson sing In the Upper Room. He'd smile, glance at me with those beautiful gray eyes, and wink, which melted my heart. In a recent conversation with his grandson Mario, Mario said, "Pop-Pop, it's the eyes!" Phillip had a good life, full of good memories. I thank God every day for allowing me to spend the last 52 years of my life as his friend, wife, and soulmate. Phillip is the love of my life eternal. He leaves to cherish his memory, his wife, Shirley Suber-Johnson of Saint Leonard, Maryland, his son Charles Phillip Harris, Sr., (wife Justine) & (mother Juanita Harris), of Wilmington, Delaware, Madeline Bolden, his former spouse of Wilmington, Delaware, and his sons Philip H. Johnson, IV (wife Faun) of Simi Valley, California and Terrance Johnson, Sr. (wife Nicole) of Simi Valley California, his daughters, Tracy Brown of Wilmington, Delaware, Tiffani Mitchell of Kansas City, Missouri. His stepson Andre Suber, of Kansas City, Missouri, his stepdaughters, Shane Miller of Wilmington, Delaware, Akosua Ali (husband Mustafa) Washington DC, Aba Tyus, of Saint Leonard, Maryland. His cousin, Craig James of Wilmington, Delaware. His favorite auntie, Dorothy Demps of Buffalo, New York. Close friends, Richard Ables of Washington, DC, and John Huntzberry of Prince Frederick, Maryland. Eighteen grandchildren: Charles Phillip, Jr.Tarran, Lyisharra, Karrief, Philip Mario, Taura, Perryn, Tiara, Shanise, Brian, Terrance, Trae, Taylor, Leelin, Timothy, Timia, Timya, and Brodjerrick. Twelve great-grandchildren: Alexis, Audrey, Elise, Tony, Alyiah, Neaveah, Rico, Nia, Shyanne, Paxton, Sebastian, and Jordan. Philip, full of wisdom, lovingly mentored his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren at every opportunity. Also, to cherish his memories are a host of other relatives and friends. Father God grant Phillip eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, Amen. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen. Interment will be held in a private ceremony at the columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery with Standard Military Honors. Funeral Services Entrusted to: Lee Funeral Home Calvert www.leefuneralhomes.com Acknowledgments We, the family of the late Phillip Harry Johnson III, express our deep appreciation and acknowledgment to those who have shown acts of kindness and extended courtesies to us during this time of grief. Your expressions of love and sympathy have been so encouraging. May God Bless Each of You!
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