Thursday, May 5, 2022

Westland mourns death of Henry ‘Hank’ Johnson

Henry “Hank” Johnson
The Westland community is mourning the death of Henry “Hank” Johnson, a Norwayne community activist awarded numerous honors for his dedication to the area.

Mr. Johnson, 70,  died in Ann Arbor May 1.

He was born Aug. 10, 1951 in Detroit, the son of Henry O. and Rose A. Johnson, who preceded him death. The family moved to the home on Ogemaw Court in Norwayne in 1952 and the family has owned the property for 70 years.

Mr. Johnson's involvement in the Norwayne community during his life has been the catalyst for compassion and stabilization efforts. In 1969, Westland Mayor Eugene McKinney appointed Mr. Johnson as co-chair of the Mayor's Task Force on Norwayne tasked with working to improve the development of the community. 

In 1997, Mr. Johnson was enrolled in the Governor's Hall of Fame for his outstanding service. He was also a recipient of Congressman John Conyers' Social Justice Award and was named Michigan Democratic Party Precinct Delegate of the Year.

In 2010, Mr. Johnson restarted the Norwayne Community Citizens Council designed to encourage “community” within the Norwayne subdivision through beautification programs, literacy programs, distributing school supplies, supporting or creating recreational programs, and more. In 2015, he was named Westland Citizen of the Year for his work on behalf of the Norwayne Historic District. The Lincoln-Johnson Field was dedicated in his honor at the site of the former Lincoln Elementary School in 2018.

In addition to the Norwayne Historic District activities, Mr. Johnson also had a passion for helping children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He worked for the ARC Detroit where he dedicated his life to advocating for people with disabilities. In 1995, he was awarded Employee of the Year by the United Church of Christ for his work on behalf of adults with developmental disabilities through the Evangelical Community Homes of Michigan.

Mr. Johnson also volunteered with the Westland Community Development Block Grant Advisory Board, Westland Rehabilitation Review Board, Liberator Development Group (Community Housing Development Organization), and chaired the Wayne County Regional Interagency Coordinating Council, 2000-2010. 

Mr. Johnson was a 1969 graduate of Wayne Memorial High School and attended the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University.

Among his survivors are his brothers, Gary (Andrea) Johnson and John (Elizabeth) Johnson; two sisters, Gloria Lehtinen and Susan (Douglas) Sano; 14 nieces and nephews;  numerous great- nieces and nephews, and his beloved cat Patty Melt. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by  brothers, Archie Sipe Jr., Dennis Sipe, James Sipe and Robert Sipe, and a  sister, Patricia Sipe.

The celebration of Mr. Johnson's life will take place at noon Friday, May 6 at Uht Funeral Home at 35400 Glenwood St. in Westland. Interment will follow at Glenwood Cemetery, 33510 Glenwood St. in Wayne. 

To honor his life and love of the University of Michigan, Mr. Johnson requested a Maize Out for his funeral. In lieu of flowers, he suggested donations to the Norwayne Community Citizens Council, 32150 Dorsey Road, Westland MI, 48186 or The ARC Detroit, 51 W. Hancock St., Detroit MI, 48201.