Two of England’s best-known exports are soccer teams and musical entertainers strumming guitars. And both soccer and music have played their parts in the life of Elder Kenneth Johnson of Norwich, England, newly sustained member of the Seventy. Born on 5 July 1940 in Norwich, to Bertie and Ada Johnson, Kenneth has played soccer for city-league and ward teams and has played guitar in singing groups.
But these interests pale when he talks of his wife, Pamela (Wilson), whom he met at a dance in April 1959. “Pam told me she would never be seriously interested in me because I was not a member of the Church,” he recalls. “But I was impressed enough with Pam that whatever being a Mormon meant had to be good.” With sincere humor, he adds, “And though I was not interested in religion at the time, she gradually drew me toward the Church—services, activities, then discussions. Did I say ‘gradually’? I was baptized August 16—within four months of first hearing about the Church. Pam was quite the district missionary!”
Elder Johnson attributes his spiritual development in the gospel to some fine people. “I am indebted to dear parents, who reared me in such a way that when the truth came, I would recognize it,” he says. “My father was a very humble yet brilliant man. He sang in the Methodist choir, but his religion was not in churches. He was away at war in Italy, but I remember the day everyone said, ‘Dad’s coming home!’ I didn’t quite know what that meant. But I began to shout it, too, and we grew very close.”
“A second great spiritual influence on me has come from my wife and her wonderful parents,” continues Elder Johnson. “Pam has radiated gospel goodness from the first time we met. She is the very embodiment of compassion. Caring for others comes naturally to her—sharing meals, a listening ear, or one of her wonderfully creative lessons.”
He maintains, too, that sports and music got in the way of his being much of a student until Pamela and the gospel appeared. He then gained a vigorous desire to rise to his potential, graduating from Norwich City College and the London Institute of Printing. Then, twenty-six years ago, he left the printing trade and began an insurance brokerage with a partner.
In talking of his wife, Elder Johnson reveals his own humorous nature as well as their rich relationship of equally yoked service. “It’s a good thing we have visitors,” he quips with a smile. “Having visitors means I can always count on getting a bite to eat, since so much of what Pam cooks goes out the door to other people.” The truth is that Elder Johnson is quite capable around the house, and he and Pamela work side-by-side both at the office and at home.
According to Elder Johnson, a third great spiritual influence in his life was a building-missionary supervisor who served in their district just after they were married. “Walt Stewart had such faith that he truly believed in the limitlessness of man’s potential for good. I’ve adopted that view and thank Walt for it.”
Elder Kenneth Johnson has served in branch and district presidencies, then for ten years as stake president—first in Ipswich, then Norwich—until he was called to be a regional representative.
Four years after the Johnsons’ marriage in 1962, their son Kevin was born. The baby had serious complications and required constant care for the first three years of his life. Today, after priesthood blessings and surgery, Kevin is healthy, has filled a mission, and is a counselor in the stake mission presidency.
Elder Johnson “promised the Lord that if His dews of heaven would distill upon my son and preserve him, I would give my life to fulfill His work of love. I gratefully keep that promise.”