BISHOP, Texas — Vell Johnson is described by friends and family as someone that was always willing to help out the community. Unfortunately, Johnson, a sorghum, corn, and cotton farmer from Bishop, passed away about a week ago at 67.
On Saturday, his friends and family got together to honor his memory by finishing the harvest work on his cotton field in Bishop. They went out on “semis” or grain trucks and formed a “V”, which is typical when farming, but it took on a different meaning: V for Vell, and they also carved out a J on the field for Johnson.
Friends said it was a way to show the Johnson family that they’re not alone.
Michael Benton, one of Johnson’s life-long friends, said apart from farming together, he and Johnson would go to church together and Johnson would coach his kids in Little League.
“Vell’s a great guy! I helped him farm, helped him several times, different times over the years, like everybody does here. Bishop is a great community that helps each other out and he’s one of them that we helped out,” Michael Benton, one of Johnson’s lifelong friends said.
Michael Zamora was another one of Johnson’s friends. Zamora said Johnson knew him his whole life and he would play around in Johnson’s fields since he was 8 before Johnson taught him to ride a tractor at 10. Zamora then went on to work for him during summers in junior high and high school out on the fields.
“He had a big heart. He was really really nice and if you get to know him, he would make you feel like you knew him for a long time,” Zamora said.
Pam Johnson, Vell’s wife, was married to him for 45 years and described herself as a farmer’s wife, and said they met in Bishop, where they lived their entire lives. She said she would help him out on the fields and in the grain elevators, as well as cutting stocks and driving the grain trucks.
“One of the things that most people will say about him was he was definitely a community man. Big time into the little league and church stuff, the farming industry. If somebody needed something, he was there to help them out,” she said.
She said when he passed away, he already had all of his papers and documents ready, something she got emotional over because she knew how organized he was.
“The neat thing about Vell is because he knew he had heart issues and that that would probably be the way he would go one day, he kept immaculate records. When he passed away that evening I sat down at his desk and he had everything laid out for me,” Pam Johnson said.
Vell Johnson took over his father’s fields after his father passed away when he was 17. His son, Clayton Johnson, said he’s hoping to take over the fields now that his father has passed.
“I really appreciate everything y’all are doing. It means a lot to us,” Clayton Johnson said.