“Gary made every day count, not only with his God-honoring work, but with his God-honoring life.”
—Dave Alan Johnson
Gary Johnson, with his brother Dave Alan Johnson and his wife Joan Considine Johnson, co-created, wrote, and produced two of the most beloved and successful television series for faith and general audiences (Doc and Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye), as well as movies and other television projects. We at Mastermedia are saddened by the passing of our dear friend Gary Johnson. We’ve asked his brother, Dave, to honor him with reflections on his life . . .
My brother, Gary R. Johnson, was one of the best writers in Hollywood. He is the best “clever dialogue” writer I’ve ever come across in nearly thirty years of working in this business at the highest levels. He worked in the entertainment “major leagues” for twenty years solid, made a lot of money by any standard, and won innumerable awards and praise for his work. He was grateful for all of that, but if we could ask him today to define success, he’d say it was that he followed Jesus through it all. And for those of us left behind, we couldn’t agree more.
On Father’s Day, June 18th, Gar, as we called him, went to be with his Savior Jesus Christ after a battle with cancer. What he knew, even long before the cancer, is that success, money, and accolades earned in this life won’t help us when it is time to meet our Lord. It’s so easy to buy into the lie that our success here on earth is what we should be living for. Gar knew there was more, and it was demonstrated by how he lived.
After his illness became public, we got hundreds of notes from people he knew, worked with, and touched over his lifetime. What moved us most wasn’t that they said he was a great writer, but that literally every person commented on how genuine, kind, humble, and uplifting Gar was. He was like that because he followed Jesus and let Jesus shine through him. He wasn’t perfect. No one is. But the good news is we’re not expected to be.
I’m hopeful that Gary’s life is a reminder to others, as it is to me, that even in the midst of the pressures of this sometimes thrilling—but always crazy—business, our goal is to let people see Jesus in us. Gary did that.
On June 18th, I lost my lifelong best friend. He also happened to be my brother. It has left a massive hole in my heart. I know that over time that empty space will begin to fill back in . . . and I thank God for that. But I also know the hole will never fill completely. A piece of me is gone, and I will miss Gar and the joy he brought every day until I laugh with him again in heaven. Many others feel the same.
He went too soon, but the truth is we live in a world where even a long life is still a short time. Gar knew that and he made every day count, not only with his God-honoring work, but with his God honoring-life. We will miss him. Our loss is heaven’s gain.