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Ernest "Ernie" Johnson Jr. '52 September 16, 2021 10:58 AM updated: September 16, 2021 11:14 AM

Ernest "Ernie" Clayton Johnson Jr.
January 29, 1931 - August 17, 2021

Ernest Clayton Johnson Jr, 90, passed peacefully at his home in Midland, TX on August 17, 2021. Ernie, as he was known, was born in Dublin, Texas on January 29, 1931 to Ernest C. Johnson and Marjorie Ann Lord. His mother passed away when he was 15 months old, and his father married Martha Francis Rubottom. He had five siblings, Beth D., Richard, Joy, Jack and Tim Johnson. The family lived in Mt. Pleasant and Stephenville before settling in at Breezy Oaks, the family dairy farm, near Dublin.

He graduated from Dublin High School and attended Tarleton State College in Stephenville, TX from 1948-1950. Following in his father’s footsteps, Ernie went on to play baseball and graduate from Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. In the summer of 1952, at the Post Office on campus, he met Cecilia Fratelli. He graduated that summer with a B.S. in Dairy Science. Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the Army as a First Lieutenant and trained at Fort Sill Oklahoma and Fort Polk Louisiana. He and Cecilia were married on April 23, 1953, in the Chapel at Fort Polk before his deployment to Korea. He served in Korea until the conclusion of the war in 1953 and was honorably discharged in 1955.

After his military service, he pursued a minor league baseball career, affiliated with Pittsburgh Pirates in Waco. Two summers of pitching took a toll on his shoulder so Ernie pursued the next best thing, a coaching career.

Ernie loved to teach and learn, and for him, the calling to the classroom and ball fields was easy. He began teaching and coaching in Stephenville and Dublin, TX until 1961, when he was hired at Robert E. Lee High School in Midland. He was proud of his career at Lee and made many of his lifelong friends there. He served as the head baseball coach, assistant football coach, and taught Biology for 30 years, until his retirement in 1990. His baseball teams won seven district championships and qualified for the state tournament twice. The school honored him in 1991, naming the baseball diamond “Ernie Johnson Field”. Even in retirement, he never left, as he attended football and baseball practices every afternoon and helped mentor coaches and athletes right up to his passing.

Ernie is a charter and founding member of the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. A member of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association and the National Education Association. In 1991, Johnson was inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was inducted to the Lee Legacy Wall of Honor. In 2016, he was honored at the West Texas Sports Banquet by receiving the Scott Seator Community Achievement Award. In 2017 he was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor.

A lifetime learner, he spent many summers continuing his education in science and western history. He attended Howard Payne University in the summers of 1955-1958 and North Texas State University in Denton, TX, in the summers of 1959-1961 where he earned a Master of Education. He traveled to meet and study under professors of biology, botany, entomology, and western history across Texas and Colorado. Along the way, he attended East Texas State University, Commerce, TX; Western Colorado State College, Gunnison, CO; Sul Ross University, Alpine, TX; University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX; and the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. Outside of formal study, he read literally every book written on the frontier life and Native Americans in Texas and the Llano Estacado. He amassed such a collection of books, it became impossible to find the obscure title he hadn’t already read. He burst our anticipatory bubbles many times at Christmas and Birthdays when upon unwrapping the “new” book he would tell us how good it was and give some detail from the story so we knew he wasn’t bluffing.

Ernie and Celie had three children: Susan, Karen, and Lee. As the head of his family, he was an oak and had enormous energy to care for, protect, and teach us. He especially loved his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He spoiled them on fishing, hunting, and camping trips where he taught them the proper name of every grass, bug, bird, fish, and reptile they ran across. He loved watching them grow up, and he and Celie traveled all over Texas and New Mexico to watch them play sports and support them at every stage of their life.

Ernie was preceded in death by his wife, Cecilia of 68 years, his parents, sister Beth D. Hallmark and brother Dick Johnson. He is survived by his children Susan Weaver (Jim) of Wichita Falls, TX, Karen Dunn of Arlington, TX, and Lee Johnson of Artesia, NM. His grandchildren, Alex '99 and wife, Heather of Midland, TX, Nick Holmes and wife, Lindsay of Austin, TX, Jake Weaver and wife Kristi of Wichita Falls, TX, PJ Dunn and wife Esther of Fort Worth, TX, Chandler Johnson and wife Clarissa of Irving, TX. Great grandchildren; Olivia and Alexis Hale, Brexton and Marinley Holmes and Dustin and Collin Weaver. He is also survived by his sister Joy Hall of Houston, TX; brother Jack Johnson of New Orleans LA, and brother Tim Johnson of Dublin TX.

The family would like to thank Home Care Assistance and their care givers Kendall, Gloria, Dawn, Zena, Jeanna, Ginger and many others over the years for their loving care. We would also like to thank Hospice of Midland. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Midland and Meals on Wheels.

Visitation will be held Monday, August 23rd, 6-8pm, at Nalley-Pickle Welch Funeral Home. Service will be held at 2pm, Tuesday, August 24th at the Branch at npw. Pallbearers will be Alex Hale, Nick Holmes, Jake Weaver, PJ Dunn, Chandler Johnson, Ray Pearson, and Jesse Benavidez. Honorary Pallbearers are Harold Eldridge, Larry Hall, Tim Whalen, and Bill Schammel.

A reception open to the public will be held August 24th, at 7pm, at the Lee High School Field House.

Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory of Midland. Online condolences may be made at

©Nalley-Pickle & Welch Chapel

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