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LEGACY: Lawrence Johnson – ‘loving, kind and generous’

Services have been set for May 9 for Memphis Realtor Lawrence Johnson — an “idol” to some and the man many credit with helping them purchase their first home.

The death of Mr. Johnson, 80, quickly traveled across social media outlets Monday morning.

Daryle Barnes shared on Facebook that Johnson – the founder of Lawrence Johnson Realtors – was “one of my idols.” Scores of condolences and prayers for his family were posted as the news was shared repeatedly over the course of the week.

Although it has been confirmed that Mr. Johnson died from complications of COVID-19, his children said their father should be remembered for how he lived, not how he died. All three work at his realty office.

Lawrence Johnson with his daughter and granddaughter. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

“Our father always put Christ first in everything he did,” said his daughter, Elaine DeVerne Johnson-Miles. “He would begin every office meeting with a prayer and a song.”

Johnson-Miles said her father helped many, many people buy their first home, even if they had credit problems. He would help work through their credit issues.

“Our dad always said he wanted to be as kind to everyone as he would be to his own children.”

The younger son, Eric Johnson, remembered the advice his father gave him in 2005 when Eric first received his real estate license.

“My father told me never to take advantage of anyone and put them in a house they can’t afford,” Eric Johnson said. “Some real estate agents would do it for bigger commissions.”

The eldest child, Spencer Johnson, lauded his father for his strong leadership in the community, church and in his family.

“Our father was loving, kind and generous,” said Spencer Johnson. “And he had a great sense of humor. He could make anybody laugh, and he never met a stranger.”

It was widely known that Mr. Johnson would bring kids in to do odd jobs around the office so they could earn some money and stay out of trouble. He would talk to young people about being obedient to their parents and developing a strong work ethic.

Mr. Johnson established Lawrence Johnson Realtors more than 40 years ago, helping many aspiring realtors get started in the local real estate market. The company also managed single-resident, rental properties, as well as apartment buildings.

Mr. Johnson holds the distinction of being the first African-American to become a Lifetime member of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Multi-Million Sales Club.

He was a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Tennessee Association of Realtors, the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, the Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Mr. Johnson was working full-time at his Whitehaven office when he contracted the virus during the latter part of April. After a weeklong stay in Methodist South Hospital, he was released and returned to his home, where he died Monday.

In addition to his three children, Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife, Magnolia; a brother, Harold Johnson; a sister, DeVerne Howell; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The May 9th services for Mr. Johnson begin with visitation from 9 a.m. until noon at Middle Baptist Church, 801 Whitehaven Lane in Whitehaven. Only 10 viewers will be allowed inside the sanctuary at a time. Everyone in attendance is asked to wear a mask and observe social distancing of six feet apart.

The funeral service will begin at noon. Only 150 people will be allowed to attend because of COVID-19 safety precautions.

R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home has charge. For more information, call 901- 526-3264.

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