The Johnson Memorial Story

Johnson Memorial Funeral Directors was established January 10, 1967, by Howard Johnson and his wife, Odessa Pitts Johnson. The firm began in the former Smith & Gaston building at 2531 Ninth Avenue North, Bessemer, Alabama. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson worked to establish a funeral establishment to serve the citizens of Bessemer and Jefferson County.

Original staff included Howard Johnson, Odessa Pitts Johnson, Jessie R. Jones, Willie M. Scott, Jr., Clifford Outlin, Junius Davis, Robert Hicks, David Lee Cox, Morgan McClain, Tommie Carlisle and Evelyn King.

  • The firm began with rolling stock consisting of a 1962 Cadillac Superior Funeral Coach,
  • 1955 S & S Cadillac Funeral Coach, 1963 Ford Ambulance and 1962 Cadillac Sedan deVille.
  • After nearly three weeks, first death call was received on February 1, 1967, to serve the family of the departed Mr. James Thomas, age 100.

Highlights of our story include:

  • March 1968….Purchase of New 1968 Cadillac M & M Combination Funeral Coach
  • at a cost of  $10,983.67
  • (Mr. Johnson is proudly pictured with his brand new funeral coach and 1963 Ford Ambulance.)


1970…Purchase of first new car, 1970 Cadillac Sedan deVille

1970…Transported First Patient by Ambulance to the new Mercy Hospital, Birmingham

1971..Moved patients from Ruby Hill Nursing Home in Titusville to their new facility in Wenonah

Sunday, March 21, 1971…Directed Two Double Funerals at Shiloh Baptist Church of Brighton, both were mother and son

1972……Howard Johnson completes Mortuary Science Program at Jefferson State, obtains License as Mortician

As we moved into the 1970s, ambulance service became heavily regulated and funeral homes were phased out of the ambulance business. Johnson Memorial continued to render invalid service into the early 1990s