Jay F. Johnson

Jay F. Johnson

Saturday, October 13th, 1962 - Sunday, November 1st, 2020
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Jay "Jaybird" F. Johnson of Arcade, passed away Sunday, November 1, 2020 at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo at the age of 58 after battling a lengthy illness.

He was born October 13, 1962 in Buffalo, NY a son of the late John "Jack" and Betty L. (Brown) Johnson.

Jay was a loving stepdad, brother, uncle, and friend. He was a life long Bills, Yankees, and NASCAR fan.

He will be greatly missed by his sisters, Carol (Al Layman) Jones and Betsy (John) Keenan; his fiance, Lori Bigelow and her sons: Jim (Amber) Bigelow, Tom Bigelow, Bobby Bigelow, and Jacob Bigelow; his nephews: Jeff Jones, Steve (Kim) Keenan; his great nephew, Cory Jones; and ten grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his nephew, Johnny Jones, and brother-in-law, Ed Jones.

There will be no calling hours. A celebration of life will be held at a later date at the convenience of the family.
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David Pronko

Posted at 02:35am
I have tears falling on my keyboard as I write this. 2020 continues to be horrid year for many reasons. The passing of my cousin Jay Frazier Johnson tops the list for me. While I knew Jay all my life, I didn't really get to know him well till I moved out to Rochester to attend college at R.I.T. It was 1996, the summer Olympics were just wrapping up and the Yankees were looking like world series contenders for the first time since 1981. After my cousin Johnny and his girlfriend Holly brought a new son (Corey) into the world in 1997, I got to see and bond with Jay even more, as he and his parents Betty and Jack (who I love and miss) wanted to be a BIG part of Corey's life right off the bat.

I struck by the fact that now in his late 30's Jay was a dead ringer for our Uncle Cecil Brown (my favorite Uncle who I still mourn to this day). But appearances weren't where the similarities between them ended. Like our Uncle Cece... Jaybird was a gentle giant who's heart, character, quick wit and sense of humor far exceeded his immense physical size.

Because both of us were Harley owners, fans of outlaw music, The Sophranoes and pro-wrestling... I always enjoyed riding up to arcade to hang with him. When he took me to Hardy's... (his favorite watering hole where he met his beloved Lori who was tending bar at the time) I noticed that just like our Uncle... Jay always drew a large crowd of people that gathered round the gentle giant who was always quick with a smile, kind word and clever quip.

Jay had a great group of friends that were his extended family. This included members of the Raiders like his good buddy Dave... a great guy. When I finally had my first bar gig with a band I put together, Jay, Lori, and a few of their friends from Hardy's showed up to lend me moral support. It's still one of the great memories I cherish. Jay knew how many years a back injury took me out of the game leaving me in a suicidal depression, so when I finally was physically able to do what I love most again, he made a 5 hour round trip to watch me play for 3 hours. It always meant a lot to me and always will.

As the years went by our lives got busy and we got to see less of each other. I had a rare opportunity to hang out extensively with Jaybird when I surprised him by showing up at his 50th B-Day party at Hardy's. It was just before I went sober so it was one of the last times I actually cut loose in public. lol. My understanding is that for years the Raiders were trying to get him to join them. When I went to his 50th he was a full fledged patch wearing Raider that just finished his hazing period. Being they wanted him so bad I though he should have been hazing them. lol. You could tell Jay was a very well loved and respected member of their crew, as he was with any group of people he blessed with his enormous presence.

I only got to see him 2 more times after that. So often over the years I wanted to get on my bike and make the trip out to Arcade if only to spend a few hours with one of my favorite cousins yet I always let other B.S. get in the way. As the old cliche goes, don't ever ignore that itch to spend time with someone you love or call them on the phone because there's no guarantee about tomorrow.

While Jay's life ended way too soon, he still managed to touch more lives in a positive way than most people who live to be twice his age. I am very proud to call him my cousin. At this time I'd like to send out all of my love and deepest sympathy to my cousins/his sisters Carol and Betsy, his girlfriend Lori, and nephews Jeff, Steven and Corey who I know have to be devastated with his passing.

Fly on Jaybird! I hope you're exploring the cosmos on a fierce HOG that never breaks down or runs out of fuel... where the highways never end, where the sights and smells are beautiful beyond anything we can imagine and where there's a rocking club as cool as Hardy's at every exit!

I'm missing you already.

David Michael Pronko

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