Letter to the Editor

Tribute to Johnnye Lehr, my friend

Johnnye, where have you gone – Oh the times we had in grade school, junior high and high school. We were always there for each other, watching our 6 o’clock. We came from different social backgrounds and different cultures, but that did not matter. After graduation, I did not come to Graham often, but when I did, we always had time for each other (unless Graham was playing Friday night football). As our lives changed, I went off to college, to the Navy and then into the business world. You stayed home and developed your gift of love, kindness and giving.
Johnnye, where have you gone – You were always the kindest and the most thoughtful to everyone that crossed your path. Your giving continued until the day God took you. My wife, Karen Bonner, mentioned last October that you had a tenant that could not afford the rent. What did you do? You let it go.
Johnnye, where have you gone – It all started in the seventh grade, protecting me from a bully that was twice my size and also bigger than you. I was prepared to suffer defeat, but you stepped in to call the bully’s bluff, fighting him to a draw. We rewrote Tennessee Ernie’s 16 Tons and adapted it to the Doggie football team. Soon everyone was singing “Doggie 16 Tons”
Johnnye, where have you gone – Throughout high school, you were not the biggest, strongest, tallest or the most talented, but you always gave your all. When Coach Curry set up a 2x10 plank board to challenge for starting positions, you were the first to volunteer, often losing to someone stronger like James Hamilton or Gerry Hitch, but you asked to go again and again, until Coach Curry said “No.” Or your love for basketball, even though you were short and not that good, it was just not your sport. Remember the time you challenged me to a game of 21. I gave you 20 points and still beat you to 21, but you demanded to go again.
Johnnye, where have you gone – In the ninth grade you convinced me to cut cedar posts on your grandparent’s land (across from the Barn). After four hours of cutting posts with no power tools or gloves, but bloody hands and tired bodies, we sold the cedar posts for the grand total of $2.50. I was so mad at you as you had convinced me that we would be wealthy with over $50. We turned in the $2.50 for a couple of burgers, fries and a Coke at the Dairy King. Harmon Lewis told that story for years. How about the time we threw firecrackers at a couple of lovers parked on Lover’s Lane and then escaped the Senior by diving over your grandmother’s fence.
Johnnye, where have you gone – In the 11th grade, in the absence of the GHS Y-Teen girls that had gone to Glen Rose, we moved their cars up on the front lawn of the High School and then returned to the scene of the crime with the police eyeing us. Or what about the time that I called you when Diana Orr and I were out on the town and my car broke down. I broke into the Pitcock Cement Plant to call you to rescue us. We made the front page of the Graham Leader the following week.
Johnnye, where have you gone – I came back for a class reunion several years ago, called you the Friday night before the reunion. I said, “Let’s get together and party with about 20 of our friends from our high school days” You said, “Nope, that’s Friday night and I don’t miss my football. Graham is playing Vernon and there is a group of us that travel to each game.” “Johnnye,” I said, “You have not seen some of your classmates for over 50 years.” Again you said, “Nope, not going to give up my football.”
Johnnye, where have you gone – I read where you retired from the military (thank you for your service), were a former deputy sheriff, a hard worker, a loving father and grandfather and so full of joy and love. In my heart I knew all of that, because you were all of that to me.
Johnnye, where have you gone – You left this world because God wanted you. One day we will be together again, planning mischief and fun. May God always hold you in the palm of His hand.
Trenton Bonner
Classmate, Graham High School 1963
La Jolla, Calif.

The Graham Leader

620 Oak Street
P.O. Box 600
Graham, Texas 76450
Phone: (940) 549-7800
Fax: (940) 228-0589