Whitesburg KY

Eagle readers respond by sending 600 ink pens to elderly Letcher native

Mountain Eagle
readers have sent an 87-year-old ink pen collector around 600 pens to add to his collection. After reading an article about the Rev. James ‘Preacher’ Johnson in the Aug. 11 edition of The Eagle,
readers were quick to try to help him reach his goal of owning 10,000 ink pens. Johnson, a Letcher County native who resides in Cumberland, has more than 7,000 pens in his collection.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Kim Smith, Johnson’s daughter who lives in Maynardville, Tenn. “He has received at least 40 envelopes with pens, several boxes full, and a whole collection that belonged to someone’s father that has passed away with a photo of her father and a request for my daddy to tell her father when they meet in heaven that his daughter missed him.”

Smith said Johnson enjoys opening packages containing pens.

“Daddy is so thankful,” said Smith. “He wants everyone to know he has received the pens and looks forward to getting the mail every day.”

Smith said her father was eager to show her his new pens when she recently visited him.

“Daddy said, ‘Look, Kim, at these pens. Isn’t it wonderful? When I have a bad day I come in here and look at my pens, it helps me get through,’”said Smith.

Johnson started his pen collection about 15 years ago and has pens from as far away as Bombay, India, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Egypt.

“He doesn’t care if they write,” said Smith. “He wants them to have a logo of some kind on them or just be cute or unusual.”

Johnson no longer drives and isn’t able to find pens to add to his collection.

“He is starting to forget people and places, but he still loves his pen collection and shows it off to everyone who visits his house,” said Smith. “The pens don’t have to be anything fancy. He is so tickled that people are being so thoughtful to him.”

Johnson’s sister, Eliza Jane Madden, and her husband, Ford, live in Isom. Johnson is a son of the late William and Bithie Johnson, also of Isom.

Johnson is a Pentecostal minister, a World War II Army veteran, and a retired coal miner who worked 34 years for Blue Diamond Coal Co. in Letcher County. He has been married for 64 years to Juanita and is the father of eight children. He has many grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

“He has a reputation as a kind and humble man that would literally give you the shirt off of his back,” said Smith.

Smith said Johnson is a man that has worked hard to feed his family, serve his country and serve his Lord as a minister.

“Preacher Johnson is a sweet man you will never forget if you ever get the chance to meet him,” said Smith.

Send ink pens to James Johnson, 42 Collins Street, Cumberland, Ky. 40823.

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