Good (meaning nicely done) news-obituary today in the Democrat-Gazette by political editor Bill Simmons on Justice Jim Johnson, the legendary segregationist who took his life Saturday at age 85.
Striking quote, given the factual context of the obituary, from politically active real estate developer Jim Lindsey:
"He was a true American patriot, there's no question about it."
DEPT. OF AMPLIFICATION: Some readers understood, others didn't, my original phrase "good news obituary." The word good referred to the "news obituary" written by Bill Simmons not the news of Jim Johnson's death, which, after all, I'd first reported yesterday morning. I'm sorry that my sloppiness created confusion.
UPDATE: Justice Jim Johnson's sons tell me that funeral for their father will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Central Baptist Church in Conway with burial at Oak Grove Cemetery next to his wife, Virginia, whose death in 2007 his sons say he never got over.
There will be a visitation with the family from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Centennial Valley Country Club.
Danny Johnson, who'd been staying with his father, wanted to explain a little more of the circumstances that led to his father's death sometime Friday night by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. For one thing, he said, correcting official reports, the shot came from a .44 Magnum Marlin deer hunting carbine.
Johnson had apparently gotten up in the night, placed a foam pillow for his back in a chair, pointed the barrel of the gun at a point above his heart and fired. Danny Johnson said he didn't hear the shot during the night and discovered his father in the chair in the morning, with the rifle in his lap.
Johnson had been suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This was complicated by a blocked artery in one leg that delayed a planned round of chemotherapy. After surgery to correct the circulation problem, he had one round of chemotherapy, but developed a fistula between his bowel and bladder. Exploratory surgery discovered multiple problems that led to a colostomy.
"He was depleted by chemotherapy and down and depressed about having a colostomy," Danny Johnson said.
He came home from the hospital Tuesday and problems developed in adapting to the use of the colostomy bag. "He was embarrassed about it. His dignity was lost. We were trying to reassure him that everything was going to be OK, but he said, 'I just can't see daylight from here.'"
The younger Johnson said that when he put his father to bed Friday night, he said, "Son you shouldn't have to do all this."
"I said, 'It's OK, we're going to get through it,' and I went on to bed."
Danny and his brother Dave were both troubled by obituary accounts that depicted their father as hating Bill Clinton. He was indeed a committed political foe of Clinton, they said, but he greatly admired Bill Clinton's political skills. They said Justice Jim sent Clinton a note wishing him a long life on his first heart surgery (he joked that he didn't want to lose his adversary) and got a note from Clinton in return.