Simonson for the suggestion of remembering our radio friends who
have passed on.
We'll include our own articles as well as obituaries.
Maurice B. Jackson, 70, a radio broadcaster and advertising salesman died Friday, May 13, of a heart attack in Birmingham, Ala., where he was to attend his high school reunion. Mr. Jackson, of 975 Cardon Drive, Rockledge, was a Brevard County resident for 20 years. Born in Birmingham he was a disc jockey and talk-show host in Ohio and Brevard at WJZX-AM 860 in Cocoa, formerly WKKO-AM 860. He also worked as an advertising account executive in the Brevard bureau of The Orlando Sentinel. MR. Jackson was last employed as a salesman with Stateside Auto Supply Co. on Merritt Island. He fought in World War II with the Army. Survivors include his son, Allen Jackson; and two grandchildren.
John Passes On To Glory
When the beloved people in Big John’s life died, he would say they passed on to glory. John, who grew up poor and made a fortune as an outrageous, self-promoting tire and muffler salesman before turning to politics and talk radio, passed on to glory early Sunday. He was 76. “People throw around terms like ‘icon.’ Big certainly was a Volusia County icon,” said Mark Barker, former Holly Hill police chief and author of the popular blog barkersview.org. Those who knew him best say his life evolved into one of service to others, giving large chunks of his air time to promote nonprofit organizations, while helping countless people down on their luck with money or simply a sympathetic ear. “He was a little bit of an enigma. People knew him, but they didn’t know everything about him. He had an oversized personality, yes, but he was very humble,” said Mark Reed, a friend who’s known around Daytona Beach as “Mark of the Beach.” “I would do the radio show with him quite a bit and whenever people started praising him, he would interrupt them and say, ‘We can’t talk dirty on the radio,’” Reed said. A mutual friend introduced John to Kathy Blackman, founder and president of Sophie’s Circle, a nonprofit dog rescue and pet food pantry. He was an animal lover and invited her on his program regularly for about 10 years, but John was also intrigued with the model of Sophie’s Circle, which is run without administrative costs, so 100% of its donations are used directly to benefit animals. “He was always so generous,” Blackman said. “It was nothing to him to hand me a check for $1,000 or $500, and he was always imploring people on the radio to give.” Yet his disarming sense of humor wasn’t for everybody. “He was a polarizing guy. You loved him or you hated him. There was no in between,” Blackman said. “Nobody had a lukewarm opinion about him.” Born as John W. Brower on Nov. 20, 1945, he grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He went to Rutgers University and majored in political science, graduating “near the bottom of his class,” according to a story in the News-Journal archives. John was proud to have written a 50-page paper analyzing parking problems on the campus, and though he got a D on the paper, it was the impetus behind the construction of two parking garages, he said. John was hired by Firestone Tire Co., and later took a job at Pan American Tire Co. in Winter Park. He didn’t go to graduate school, but joked that his career gave him a PhD. in “tireology.” By 1977 he found himself jobless with his only money a jar of 50-cent pieces. But Daytona Beach businessman Ray Kessler had just closed a muffler shop and invited John to take it over. Big John’s Tire and Muffler eventually expanded to three stores. His success was in part due to radio and television commercials, including one where he wore a bridesmaid dress, reclining on a sofa with dirty white socks, saying he doesn’t cheat his women. His ads won awards, including Modern Tire Dealer’s Best Advertiser in the World. Widely credited as a marketing genius, he changed his name to Big John in 1977. That angered his father, Walter S. Brower, who had moved to Flagler Beach. Reed said John was not close to his parents, but helped support them financially. Nearly 40 years ago, Barker was a young police officer in Holly Hill and said he learned someone had attached a string to a pair of shock absorbers inside Big John's store, which he dubbed “The Lubratorium.” The string was run out the window, and Barker decided to watch overnight to see who would attempt to steal the shocks. It turned out to be an employee. “I arrested the guy and I called Big,” Barker said. “Rather than be upset, as anyone would have been at someone in their employ stealing from the business, Big was more concerned about why the guy did it. What had befallen his employee and reduced him to this? “It was that kind of compassion,” Barker said. Politics was in Big John’s blood, and he decided to springboard into local government, running for the Volusia County Council and winning his first term in 1984. He would serve two terms before being defeated in 1992, then reemerged on the council from 1998 to 2002. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Holly Hill mayor in 2012, finishing third in the primary, with Roy Johnson the ultimate winner. As a candidate, John assumed the façade of a blue-collar worker, always wearing a blue work shirt with his name stitched on the breast. Deanie Lowe, a former county councilwoman who first ran the same year as John, recalled meeting him for the first time at a candidates’ forum at what was then known as Daytona Beach Community College. “He had on his work uniform and I thought, ‘This guy is running for the County Council and he looks like that?’” Lowe said. “But he knew all of the issues and had plans for taking care of the problems and was an outstanding speaker. I thought, ‘OK, if I could, I would vote for him.’” Once elected, John could antagonize fellow council members as well as some of the people who came before the council. “One of the funniest things: You would have these high-powered attorneys representing their clients giving a presentation. When he was the chairman, John would say, ‘Wait a minute. Back up. Let me look at your shoes.’ He would make fun of them for wearing shoes with tassels,” Lowe said. “It brought them down to scale.” On the other hand, she said, John would see a citizen struggling in what might have been their first time speaking in public. “He would be so kind. He would say, ‘Breathe deeply. You can do this.’ He could make them feel right at home,” she said. One of John’s passions was transportation policy. His voice was the loudest advocating for the widening of Nova Road from two to four lanes from Ormond Beach to Port Orange, friends said. John was part of a small group that steered the $46 million expansion of the Daytona Beach Regional Airport in 1992. “We would not have Daytona Beach International Airport were it not for Big John,” said Gary Libby, the retired executive director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach. Libby said John also took an interest in supporting the arts, working with him to develop an art-in-public-places program at the airport, and later, in helping to steer the county toward its current ECHO program, a dedicated property tax source for environmental, cultural, historical and outdoors programs. There were times when, if he didn’t support another council member’s priorities, he would employ nicknames. Pat Northey, a former West Volusia councilwoman who pushed for the development of bike and walking trails, said initially John was opposed, as most of the trail investment was on the county’s west side and John represented the east side. He sarcastically dubbed her “Princess Patty” and “The Trail Queen.” Northey said she laughed and embraced the names, and eventually, when plans for trails were starting to be devised for East Volusia, as well, John became a backer. “Big always had, whether you agreed with his approach — and he could be sometimes difficult in that approach — he always had the best interest of Volusia County at heart,” Northey said. Some of his friends, including Lowe, said it was not a good idea to get on John’s bad side. Some of Volusia County’s most prominent business leaders found themselves in his crosshairs, including Bill France Jr., the late NASCAR executive and France family scion. “(John) tore him apart one day. I said, ‘How can you? They have done so much for this area,'” Lowe said. Big John was divorced twice and had an active social life. Rose Schumacher, who later became executive director of the Holly Hill Chamber of Commerce, met John at a United Way function and, in him, found someone with a similar sense of humor. “I don’t care who I insult,” Schumacher said. “He told me he had been married two times and he was never getting married again. And I said, ‘I’m sure all of the women in Volusia County thank you for that.’ It took him back for a moment.” But the two became fast friends. Schumacher said her husband died in 2001. “He was the first person to call me that morning and offer whatever help he could,” she said. Then John and his girlfriend at the time promised to visit Schumacher that night and keep her company. Schumacher later became his campaign treasurer in 2002, when John lost his last County Council race to Joie Alexander. At one point, John took an interest in MOAS, (Museum of Arts and Sciences) the Daytona Beach museum, Libby said. “I believe he was single then, and he saw the museum as a place to meet people and socialize. He liked the ladies. … He was never crude in any way. Women tended to like him. They sensed that he respected them and was interested in them.” In 2003, John met the person he called his “Sweetie,” Barbara Kinkade. Though they never married, they lived together in John’s “Big House” in Holly Hill, where she helped him create a pond stocked with koi and a garden comprised of native Florida plants that was later certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and recognized by the University of Florida and City of Holly Hill. Raised Catholic and once an altar boy, John later lived agnostically, Reed said. But in a piece he wrote for The News-Journal following Sweetie’s death on Oct. 14, 2021, John wrote: “I really miss my Sweetie, who had a great belief in God and succeeded in her mission to educate me about Him.” During his tenure on the County Council, John hosted a Saturday morning radio program (on WNFI-FM 99.9) discussing local issues and taking calls from listeners. Shortly after his 2002 defeat, Doug Wilhite, owner of WELE-1380 AM, hired John to host a two-hour, afternoon radio show. In 2010, Wings Communications — Wilhite's company — went into bankruptcy following his arrest in 2009 on charges he engaged in sexual activity with a minor. Though he was acquitted, Wilhite lost control of the radio station. John took over the marketing of WELE under his Goliath Radio LLC. His show attracted headlines in 2007 when he said of Dwayne Taylor, a Black Daytona Beach mayoral candidate: “The higher the monkey climbs, the better you can see its ass. And we’d really see Dwayne’s butt if he got to be the mayor.” John and Wilhite denied the comment was racist, though Wilhite acknowledged it was “in poor taste.” The NAACP and other organizations called for an apology. He met with Bethune-Cookman University President Trudie Kibbe Reed and alumnus Harry Burney to learn more about why the metaphor was offensive. John later said: "While I do not apologize for my views of the mayoral candidate, I have now been enlightened and seek to reconcile with all African-Americans who may have been offended by my remarks.” He also donated airtime to B-CU students on WELE. And in 2013, he donated the station and all of its equipment, worth an estimated $1 million, to Bethune-Cookman. John continued his radio show until recently, when he had fallen ill from congestive heart failure and kidney failure. Barker, who said John gave him a regular timeslot, appreciated his forum. “It was hyperlocal. If a guest strayed into state politics, he was very quick to right them and keep it hyperlocal,” Barker said. “It was an informational, inspirational forum.” He kept showing up at governmental meetings, saying that was the only way he could remain informed. He served on a number of nonprofit boards, including Serenity House. And Reed said John was a familiar face in county courtrooms. “He would go to many first appearances to make sure someone was getting a fair shake,” Reed said. “Sometimes he would help people (bond) out on first appearance and offer them a job.” Friends shared endless stories about John as someone who adopted the persona of a common man who was successful in making people without a voice feel heard. “Without a doubt, this man gave so much back to the community that nobody ever knew about,” Schumacher said. “One woman told me he bought her a refrigerator. Another woman said he paid for her rent. He was always doing something for someone. He grew up poor, and I used to tease him about it: It’s almost like he was apologizing for being rich.” A celebration of Big John's life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 201 University Blvd., Daytona Beach.
Jon Passes 12-16-15
Johnston Succumbs in California Served on Staffs Of
5 Hospitals Here
The Pittsburgh Press
May 7, 1950
Col. George C. Johnston, retired Army doctor, died yesterday in Crescent City, Cal. He was 78. A former resident of Pittsburgh, Colonel Johnston left here in 1922 to establish a residence in Orlando, Fla. He became a prominent citizen there and at the time of his death, was president of the Orlando Broadcasting Co. and part owner of Orlando station WDBO(-AM 580). Born in Lisbon O., on April 4, 1872, he received his medical training at the University of Pittsburgh. One of the leading X-ray consultants here for a number of years, he served o the staffs of five hospitals. During World War I, he was appointed Surgeon General in charge of all field hospital equipment used by the A. E. F. in France. He continued to serve with the Army for a year and a half following the war until a heart condition forced his retirement. The Colonel was visiting his sister, Mrs. Gertrude J. Isett and a brother, the Rev. William W. Johnston, both of Los Angeles, Cal., when he died. Son of the late Rev. George N. and Mrs. Emma Coffin Johnston, he is survived by one other sister, Mrs. Evelyn J. Schlbrede of Kirkwood, Mo. Col Johnston was the husband of the late Mrs. Ida Davis Johnston. Private burial services will be held Tuesday at Homewood cemetery.
Knoxville News Sentinel
Michael Joseph Johnson, age 70, of Knoxville, went to be with the Lord Thursday, May 18, 2017. He was a member of South Knoxville Baptist Church and attended West Haven Baptist Church. He was a veteran of the US Army serving in the Vietnam War. Mike had an illustrious career in radio broadcasting. He started off as a radio announcer with WKXV radio and worked at WNOX and eighteen stations throughout the Knoxville area. He became an announcer for Maryville College, the Knoxville Smokies, the Lady Gators in Florida, and retired from WELE(-AM 1380) in Daytona Beach, Florida where he was the main broadcaster for Bethune-Cookman College. He announced many high school football games in the Knoxville area. He worked in the press box at the University of Tennessee basketball games answering the phone for the Associated Press. Mike was an avid fan of the Lady Vols. Mike is preceded in death by his parents Ira O. Johnson, Jr. and Darless Lane Johnson; brother, Ira O. Johnson III; grandparents, and uncles and aunts. Mike is survived by his brothers, Luke (Isabelle) and Melvin (Mary) Johnson; nieces and nephews Melinda, Melanie, Mel, and Kevin; several great nieces and nephews; and cousins Doug, Diane, Danny, Andy, and Deborah and spouses; and many other family members and friends. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Family will receive friends from 12:00 pm until 2:00 pm on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in the chapel of Berry Funeral Home with the funeral service to follow at 2:00 pm. Family and friends will proceed to Woodlawn Cemetery following the funeral service for the interment.
Mourns Death of Rosa Lee
Published in Hometown News
Dec 11, 2008
By Jenet Krol
COCOA - An integral part of the community, Cocoa resident Rosa Lee Jones dedicated her life to improving the lives of those around her. Mrs. Jones, who died Dec. 2 at the age of 101, will be remembered as a teacher, a leader, and to many, a mother figure. She died while visiting family in California, said the Rev. Oliver Wells, pastor of Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Cocoa. She will be missed by friends and family, but her influence will be felt for many years to come, he said. "Her life was woven into the fabric of this community," said the Rev. Wells. "I saw her life as a bridge. She was a bridge for all of us to get to where we are now." Born in Quincy, Feb. 26 or 27, 1907, Mrs. Jones moved to Cocoa in 1925. She married Osborne Herman Jones two years later. Together, the couple had three children, Robert, Anna Laura and Rebecca. In 1966, Mrs. Jones started a preschool/kindergarten by mortgaging her home on Magnolia Street. The school began with 25 students in a garage apartment at her home. Later, a school was built on Poinsett Drive, which she operated for 30 years, teaching both black and white children. Known by her former students as Mama Rosa, it was at this school where Mrs. Jones inspired many of Cocoa and Rockledge's future black leaders. Dick Blake, who worked as Brevard County's first black principal at Cocoa High School and now serves on the Rockledge City Council, was a kindergarten student of Mrs. Jones. He said he owes his success to her early tutelage and training. "She was a master teacher," he said. "She made learning exciting and made students feel so good about themselves. I don't know any person who had such love and admiration for her students. I am so grateful for the influence she had on my life." She also worked together with Harry T. Moore, one of Brevard County's most influential civil rights activists and founder of Brevard County's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mrs. Jones served as the chairperson of the membership committee of the first local branch of the NAACP. She also worked with him on Brevard County's first black newspaper, "The Script," and served as a radio personality on WKKO's "Open House" from1965-1968, reading the news. Always involved in civic and social events, the Rev. Wells said Mrs. Jones also had a wonderful gift of gab. "She knew hundreds of poems and could rival any toastmasters competition," he said. In 1999, Mrs. Jones received the distinction of having a street renamed in her honor. The Cocoa City Council wanted to recognize people who were influential to the community while they were still living, said Joan Clark, Cocoa city clerk. Poinsett Drive was renamed Rosa L. Jones Drive. "She was chosen because of her outstanding contributions to the community," said Ms. Clark. Mrs. Jones was a member of Mt. Moriah AME Church and is survived by her daughter, Rebecca Baker of Cocoa, 11 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren, said the Rev. Wells. The Rev. Wells said he is happy Mrs. Jones got to experience having a street named after her, and got to see the first black person elected as the president of the United States. "She had a heart that cared about people and wasn't afraid of putting herself on the line for the concern of other people. The community will miss Rosa Jones."
Josephs Joseph Louis Buczynski
April 11, 1951 - July 10, 2016
Who is Joseph Buczynski? He has been described by many as a Media Visionary and a Great Friend. First and foremost, he was an amazingly kind person and a devoted husband and partner to his wife Susan for thirty seven years. Some here may know Joseph as Lou, others as Joe and some others as just Susan’s husband. No matter how you came to know Joe, hearing just a little about his background and expertise surely will cause you to wish you had known him better. In his professional career as a radio broadcaster, on air talent and radio consultant, he was known as Lou Josephs. Even before college he was working in a New York City radio station and being mentored by some of the best. While at Emerson College, Lou gave sage advice to his classmate that radio was not his medium and maybe try television. Fortunately for late night viewers, classmate Jay Leno followed those insights. After graduating from Emerson College in Boston, he began his radio career in suburban Boston, but soon moved to sunny Florida to run a radio station (WRMF-AM 1050) very near the Kennedy Space Center. Lou could not be happier with the opportunity to combine two favorite loves—radio and the Space Program. Lou covered every launch from Gemini through most of the Space Shuttles. Soon, because he was too good, he had the opportunity to move to larger radio markets, Philadelphia and then back to Boston for on air and management roles. His knowledge of the NASA space program rivaled that of Jay Barbree from NBC News (who also worked at WEZY-AM 1350 and 1480) who has covered every manned space flight. The two became good friends and frequently shared information. Lou also gave a young broadcaster his start in Worchester Massachusetts, setting the proper foundation for Billy Bush. Some tributes from his colleagues in radio have included: “Lou was the ‘go to guy’ when you needed something done right; my time knowing Lou will always be a part of me, he was more than my right hand man, he was my conscience, no one was more passionate about the success of the radio station or worked harder at making sure every detail was covered.” Both as a listener, but also as a broadcaster Lou began assisting Radio Netherlands and the particular show, Media Network, to help develop a program that was a serious media on air magazine. He made hundreds of contributions to the program over a 15 year period including a portrait of commercial international broadcaster, WNYW New York. This documentary is the most popular edition in the archive of the station. As time has shown, Lou’s predictions of digital AM radio, on-line audio and satellite television were spot on. Another aspect of Lou’s radio career was that he was a short wave radio pioneer. From the late 1950’s he would listen to foreign countries who were broadcasting at a frequency just above the AM radio band. Using a combination of short wave and the new medium of the internet, Lou hosted “New Year’s Around the World,” a once a year, real time audio summary of New Year’s celebrations by each time zone around the world. At its peak, there were over 2,000,000 (2 million!) listeners worldwide. But Lou was also so much more. As a radio consultant to stations in Moscow, Paris, the Netherlands and domestic stations, his research abilities were above reproach. He was the first to perform a music test in locations such as Paris (FUN Radio) which resulted in a monumental success and increase in ratings, but also caused a law to be passed in France that prevented future testing. Before there was Yahoo or CNN, Lou had developed an online new service with varied subscribers who were anxious to be kept informed on radio, space, technology and general news from the United State and beyond. The subscriber list is very substantial. He was also an archivist of radio jingles throughout the world and singing radio jingles was a particular specialty. Some listen to music on their i-pod, Lou would listen to radio jingles. Lou, now as Joe Buczynski had a second career as a sophisticated information technology expert. He was the first to bring the Google search engine into the federal government as trial for Google. Joe approached Google and asked them to develop a search engine that would just allow searching of internal agency documents. Now, this system is used government wide as basic part of a platform and has strengthened the line of business for Google. Working in the Department of Defense, he reported directly to the Inspector General and later to Ashton Carter who is now the Secretary of Defense. Although that would be enough of a career for most, Joe is also a Philanthropist, supporting the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the Smithsonian American History Museum. In addition to financial support, he has directed that his entire collection of papers and objects related to manned space flight be donated to the National Air and Space Museum to enhance knowledge and expand their materials. Additionally he has also directed that a priceless, original shortwave radio from the late 1950’s be donated to the Smithsonian American History Museum along with his preeminent collection of QSL Cards. His knowledge of the space program has allowed him to successfully challenge astronauts and NASA administrators alike with updated information based on his research and corrections of their perceptions. Just last month (June 2016) he had dinner at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, with Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Michael Collins (Apollo 11). He also continued to work with Buzz Aldrin to share space on the first mission to Mars (posthumously for both). Joe has other strengths, he is incredibly well read, leading to wisdom on multiple topics and routinely being told “you are the smartest person I know.” He also loves to travel, including the 21 day cruise through the South Pacific then spending 7 days more in Sydney Australia. Many of his trips included a visit to a shortwave transmitter site. He was looking forward to a trip to Antarctica and Scandinavia. One day, if he and Susan amassed enough miles or points, he would return to Bora Bora and an over the water bungalow. Joe was a true gastronomist and loved food. He took pleasure in discovering the top chefs of today early in their careers but also eating at the best Michelin starred restaurants worldwide. Nonetheless, a quarter pounder or sausage biscuit at McDonalds was really good too. He also became a wine expert when Susan encouraged him to begin to learn about something in addition to the space program. She observed that at parties, people’s eyes would glaze over when he would talk about the space program. Since people were holding wine in their hand, learning more about wine seemed reasonable. Like everything else, he became incredibly knowledgeable and a cellar like no other was born. This passion for knowledge also led to trips to Napa, France and Australia to visit vineyards. One of Joe’s close friends beginning in 1979 is “Mike” Grgich, a wine maker extraordinaire who was just starting his own winery. In addition to balancing all of this, Joe was an active volunteer and for the 2012 Presidential Election he was the Poll Chief in Potomac. He was the kindest, most generous and a gentle person as a friend and family member. He showed incredible compassion to Susan’s family by not leaving Susan’s mother in her final weeks. Joe kept her company, read to her, talked to her and offered support. When neither Susan or her father could stand to eulogize Lee, Joe did a remarkable job summarizing an extraordinary life without notes or preparation. Joe and Susan clicked immediately when they first met. She can attest to his being an expert in audio equipment and his willingness to do, what now turns out to be the ridiculous, by selling his 1965 Mustang for $100 because the floor board was getting thin to buy a 1981 Ford Escort. Susan was Joe’s soul mate and she his.
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