In Memory of
Remembering Harry Johnson
By Cass Sylvia
This morning I was looking through Project Amigo photos of past years. Most were shots of kids in study groups with Project Amigo volunteers. These always make me smile. Recognizing some of the faces, I knew the photos were from 15-20 years ago. These were happy faces on healthy children eager to learn and appreciative for the support Project Amigo provided them. I am still fortunate to know many of those kids now as productive young adults. In great part because of Project Amigo, they finished high school and many graduated from the University of Colima. Some are now employed in their specialty by Project Amigo helping other children reach their potential.
It reminded me of a visit to Project Amigo this past spring and having a conversation with long-time Project Amigo volunteer, Dr. Harry Johnson.
We both shared our amazement of so many students’ success. Sadly, Harry Johnson passed away shortly after returning home at the end of March, 2018.
Harry and his wife Sheryl played a significant role in the lives of so many Project Amigo children. As a dedicated Rotarian, past District Governor of 5130 and well-regarded Humboldt County dentist, Harry and wife Sheryl, a dental hygienist, helped create the Project Amigo dental clinic in Cofradia de Suchitlan. They drove dental chairs and equipment down to Colima from Northern California, a two-day journey just to the border! Every trip, Harry brought more things to equip a modern dental operatory. The dental clinic became a turn-key operation where visiting dentists could practice when they visited. Some dentists brought their staff, others used Project Amigo volunteers to maintain a safe, clean environment for countless procedures. Harry made a huge difference for hundreds of children when he introduced fluoride treatments and continued providing tens of thousands of fluoride pills annually, greatly reducing the incidents of tooth decay -- most of it paid for or donated by the Johnsons. An amazingly generous couple!
About 15 years ago the Johnsons purchased and remodeled a house in the middle of Cofradia, They have generously provided their home for housing Project Amigo Work Week volunteers.
This year on November 2, Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos, in honor of Harry Johnson, Project Amigo staff and many scholarship students built a magnificent altar in the Johnson front patio. His favorite foods and his drinks, memorabilia, and photos of him and the things he enjoyed the most, like deep sea fishing. Poems were read, songs were sung, and tears were shed. We talked about Dr. Harry Johnson the family man, the dentist, the Rotarian, the dear friend to us all. Those who spoke mentioned his generosity, his excellent cooking, his love of art, and most of all his kindness. We at Project Amigo miss him terribly and are grateful to have known him. We continue to keep Sheryl and the rest of the Johnson family close to our hearts.