Cover photo for Charles "Pete" Johnson's Obituary
1942 Charles 2019

Charles "Pete" Johnson

August 8, 1942 — November 5, 2019

Charles Glidden “Pete” Johnson, 77, of Bridgeport, WV and Blue Grass, VA passed away Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at Augusta Health in Fishersville, VA.

He was born in Clarksburg, WV on August 8, 1942, the only child of Gilva Singleton and William Glidden “Tad” Johnson.

He is survived by his wife, Lola Sestrap, of Bridgeport, WV and Blue Grass, VA, as well as a world of friends.

At Pete’s request, there are no services planned at this time.

The night before Pete died, he wrote the following:

Before the turn of the 20th Century, Charles B. Johnson married Virginia Glidden (not of the paint company fame) and moved from her Ohio home to Clarksburg, WV.  “C.B.” as he was known, was a school teacher who read law to become a lawyer.  In 1901, the newly minted WV residents began having children, William G. “Tad” Johnson, Frederick Johnson, Charles Johnson and Katherine Virginia Johnson.  Tad attended Washington Irving High School, graduated 1918 and entered Dartmouth College.  His brother, Charles, died in infancy and his brother Fred was accidentally shot and killed on Brushy Fork Road the day before he was to enter Dartmouth.

Tad was supposed to be the doctor and Fred was to be the lawyer to practice with his Father; but as a result of Fred’s death, Tad became the substitute lawyer.  He briefly practiced law with John W. Davis, a Clarksburg lawyer and Washington & Lee (W&L) alumnus.  Tad graduated from the WVU College of Law in 1927.

The Johnson family had been hunters and trout fishermen for years and belonged to the Cheat Club on the Shavers Fork River; an institution frequented by the likes of Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford.

At about the time of the Great Depression, C.B. purchased about 1,000 acres in Bath County, Virginia, designed and built a camp and spent many long months, hunting, fishing and living a good life, while practicing law in WV.

In 1941, Tad married Gilva Singleton in Braxton County, WV and on August 8, 1942, Charles G. “Pete” Johnson burst on the scene, the day before Tad shipped out for WW II.  WW II stopped any further idea of children, resulting in the creation of a Father/Son law firm, Johnson & Johnson, which flourished until 1988.  During this time, Tad was killed by a drunk driver in Pocahontas County, WV, while doing his only true love – being on the farm.

Pete attended Washington Irving High School, graduated in 1960 and with the influence of C.B., Pete entered W&L in 1960 with a glowing recommendation of WV Governor Homer Adams “Rocky” Holt.  Ironically, Pete, many years later, became associated with the successor to Jackson, Kelly, Holt and O’Ferrell.  Small world.

Pete spent every summer in Bath County, VA with his Mother, Gilva, learning to be a country kid, hunting, fishing, shocking and stacking hay and even shooting an occasional ground hog.  Pete and his friends, two families and 25 kids did what all kids did, but not in an urban environment, which in retrospect was by far the best way to grow up.  Pete learned to swim in Bath County Club, of which Tad had been a member, by being tossed in Back Creek, sort of sink or swim.

At W&L, Pete, in 1964, earned a BA degree with an English major … not a source of much remuneration, and in 1966 earned an LLB degree, cum laude, and was Associate Editor of the W&L Law Review.  Thus, the English degree was not a total loss.  He took and passed the Virginia and West Virginia State Bar Exams.

In 1966, Pete joined the U.S. Army Reserve as a true grunt.  In the process, he learned to climb a pole and string wire – important secondary skills, but he never gave up his day job.  After rising all the way to SP-4 in 1970, Pete was commissioned as a 1st Lt. (JAG Corps) U.S. Army, and after 21 years, he retired as a Lt. Colonel.

On Tad’s death in 1974, Pete went from being “the boy” to the principal.  He was never really listed on Martindale-Hubbell as an associate since there was no category for “boy.”  In 1988, Frank Simmerman, Marcia Allen and Pete formed AJS, which existed until 1994, and then morphed into Johnson, Simmerman & Broughton, which continued until 2003 when Marcia and Pete joined Jackson Kelly and Frank started his own firm.

To complete his life, in 1999 (March 31, to be specific) Pete married his long-time companion, Lola Sestrap, a graduate of Alderson Broaddus University and Marshall University. They have been the parents of six miniature schnauzers, two of whom survive.

In 2008, Gilva died at the age of 101, and thus, when Pete died on the 5th day of November, 2019, an era ended.
Memorial contributions may be made to Highland Medical Center, P.O. Box 490, Monterey, Va. 24465.

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