CCC to Host Memorial Service for Neighbor John Johnson

JOHNSON John Johnson

John Johnson at his tree pit garden on West 22nd Street (photo: Andra Gabrielle)

On March 3rd at 2 p.m. Chelsea Community Church will host a memorial service for long-time Chelsea neighbor John Johnson, who died January 19 at the age of 88. The service will be at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 346 West 20th Street. All are welcome. A retired seaman originally from New Jersey, Johnson was a decades-long resident of West 22nd Street. He planted and tended the tree pit in front of his building; after the tulips bloomed in the spring, he replaced them with plants that blossomed throughout the summer. Sporting the railing he had built to protect it, the tree and garden became a spot where he sat and chatted with neighbors. He offered treats to the dogs passing by, always first asking permission of their human companions. Whenever he moved from his post, he left treats at a spot the dogs knew well. For several years he also maintained a birdhuse he created high on a nearby light pole. Johnson had an amazing inventory of poems he could recite and was a “caregiver” for both a friend and a neighbor, tending to finances and apartments and making hospital and hospice visits.

“John was an institution on our street,” said Zazel Loven, co-chair of the 300 West Block Association and a board member of Chelsea Waterside Park. “It’s hard to imagine we won’t be seeing him tending to his tree bed garden. We all enjoyed his company and felt safer as he walked up and down the block. RIP John — the block will never be the same.”

While Mr. Johnson did not attend Chelsea Community Church, its trustees feel neighbors would appreciate an opportunity to gather to remember a remarkable and beloved man.

For more information, contact CCC at 212-886-5463 or

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