Jerry Ray Johnston, age 65, passed away Sunday, January 9th, 2022 in Franklin TN from complications of Covid pneumonia. Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Jimmy Johnston and Dorothy Johnston and his grandparents, Clarence and Mae Johnston who raised him from a small child. He is survived by his devoted wife of 45 years, Karen Roark Johnston; children, Jaren Ray Johnston (Evyn) and Texa Rae Johnston; one grandson, Jude Daniel Johnston; brothers, Jody Lane Johnston (Judy), Randy McKnight (Diane) and Jimmy Johnston (Deborah); special uncles Billy Johnston (Irene) and Clifford Johnston (Novis); and 4 brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law and their spouses that loved him as a brother. He had numerous nieces and nephews that he loved, and they loved him.
Jerry was born in Monroe, LA and moved to Nashville, TN at the age of 24 to pursue a career in music as a drummer. Over the span of 40 years, he played with numerous country stars, had a recording contract with Warner Bros. with the group Bandana, and eventually became the Staff Drummer at the Grand Ole Opry which was his dream when he left Louisiana. Jerry was a catalyst for many other musicians moving to Nashville, guiding them and introducing them to the network they needed to get gigs. He never met a stranger and wanted the best for everyone. Jerry donated time to play drums at his church whenever needed in “The Little Band that Could” and loved serving in that capacity.
An avid cook, there was always someone dropping by to get a slice of his famous Mexican Cornbread or whatever he was cooking at the time. Thanksgiving Dinner was a tradition that he enjoyed sharing with old friends, new friends, family – everyone was welcome.
Jerry was the most loving husband to Karen and Dad to their children, Jaren and Texa. They were his number one priority and he made sure everyone knew it. He was at all ballgames, school functions, was Parent of the Year for Texa’s 5th grade class (as voted by the class), flew to as many of Jaren’s shows that he could and worked the crowd, making sure all knew how proud he was of his kids.
Pallbearers will be his nephews, Brian Roark, Clint Johnston, Trey Johnston, Matthew Bryan, Justin Roark, Bobby Roark, and Sam Johnston.
Even though he lived and raised his family in Tennessee and made many dear friends, Jerry wanted to go home to Louisiana when he passed so we’ve brought his body home. We know he is with his Lord and Savior today. Private services will be held in West Monroe with Jerry’s brother-in-law, Robin Roark officiating. There will be a Memorial Service in Tennessee in a few weeks.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Music Cares, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Wounded Warriors Project, or the charity of your choice.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.kilpatrickfuneralhomes.com