Doyle Johnson, a well-known Gainesville businessman and former area director of Young Life, died Wednesday at age 64.
Friends and family remember a Christian man who was always positive, showed love even when he didn’t agree with others and helped many of them dress well.
Johnson started A.D. Mathis Custom Clothing in Gainesville in 1992. John Lilly moved to Gainesville that same year and said he “dressed like Bozo the clown” before he met Johnson.
“He taught me how to dress professionally,” Lilly said.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, who had bought suits from Johnson, also appointed him to the city’s Planning and Appeals Board, where he was the chairman at the time of his death.
“He delivered a quality product, and his service was outstanding,” Dunagan said. “He went above and beyond to satisfy his customers.”
Lilly said Johnson also taught him how to consider another person’s point of view and stay calm in tense situations.
“I’m extremely sad,” Lilly said. “But I’m happy that he’s in a better place right now.”
Dick Baxter worked with Johnson at Young Life in the 1970s, and Johnson introduced Baxter to his future wife.
He recalled going to dinner with Johnson, who would introduce himself to everybody in the restaurant.
“He never met anybody he didn’t want to know,” Baxter said.
Diane Magnus, whose father Loyd Strickland was instrumental in bringing Young Life to Hall County, said Johnson became like a brother to her when he moved to Gainesville in 1976 to work for Young Life. Through the years, that friendship extended to Magnus’ husband, children and grandchildren.
Because of Johnson’s genuine nature, Magnus said, his impact on others was widespread.
“I thought of him as a brother,” Magnus said. “So did a lot of people.”
Magnus said Johnson’s wife was selfless to share him with the many people he helped in the community.
“He had a servant’s heart. It was straight from God himself,” Magnus said. “He didn’t talk it. He walked it.”
Stacey Cox, senior pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, recalled how Johnson would often reach out to help people behind the scenes.
“He never wore it on his sleeve,” Cox said. “He would do it, and he would do it joyfully and thoughtfully. But he wouldn’t promote it.”
Magnus said she never had a memorable low point or crisis where Johnson wasn’t the first one there and without being called.
“He wasn’t the one you had to ask to do something. He just acted,” Magnus said. “He was sensitive to other people’s needs in a genuine way.”
Cox said even if Johnson didn’t agree with people, “he would out-love them.”
Johnson is survived by his wife, Amy, and daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Virginia.
A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at 1379 Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. Cox will officiate.