Paul Dwight Johnson Sr., 65, school police officer

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Paul D. Johnson

IT WAS AN UNUSUAL WAY to propose, but so what? It worked.

Paul Johnson stashed an engagement ring in a sock and tossed it to his lady love, Elaine Baxter, with the admonition, "This is something to keep you warm."

It is not recorded what Elaine thought of this maneuver, committed during a get-together with friends, but she must have been OK with it because she accepted the proposal and they were wed in 1974.

Paul's method of proposal was typical of this fun-loving guy who once worked as a disc jockey named "the Heavy J," who thought nothing of hopping into his Cadillac and hitting the road.

If you called him on his On-Star line and asked him where he was, he would reply, "Somewhere in America."

Paul Dwight Johnson Sr., a 33-year public-school police officer, Air Force veteran of Vietnam, devoted family man and church deacon, died Sept. 21 of natural causes. He was 65 and lived in Germantown.

Paul was a smooth dancer, favoring Motown music, and was always dressed to the nines. As a teenager living in Waterbury, Conn., Paul would hop a Greyhound bus and come to Philly for a good time. He would find parties, with music by famed disc jockey Georgie Woods on the radio.

He would spend summers here, too, attending shows at the Uptown, partying at the Town Hall on Broad Street or catching a Phillies game with his grandfather Daddy Joe.

Paul's childhood was spent bouncing around the country. His mother, Anna, married Donal M. Johnson and the family lived in Philadelphia. Paul attended Alice Cary Elementary School. The family then moved to Keyser, W.Va., where he completed elementary school. He graduated from high school in Waterbury, Conn.

In 1968, Paul was drafted into the Army, but chose to join the Air Force. He was sent to Vietnam at the height of U.S. involvement there. After his tour, he was stationed at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and was discharged in 1971.

One evening at a house party in Milford, Del., he met Elaine Baxter, then a student at Delaware State University, and the rest is romantic history.

Paul, Elaine and Elaine's son Jonathan from a previous relationship took up residence in Philadelphia. Paul worked for a time for the John Wanamaker department store and the Postal Service at 30th Street, before joining the Philadelphia School District as a police officer in 1974. He retired in 2007.

Paul attended the Columbia School of Broadcasting in 1972, and worked as a disc jockey at local parties. He also had a second job as a short- and long-distance chauffeur for the Boston Coach Co. in Essington.

Paul was an active member of Calvary Baptist Church, where he was ordained a deacon on Aug. 28, 1988. He sang in the church choir and encouraged his children to join the youth choir.

He was also a member of the Charles Young American Legion Post.

"Paul D. Johnson was a friend in every sense of the word," his family said. "Always dependable, always reliable, always kind, always faithful, always loving, always consistent, always there."

Besides his wife, he is survived by his mother, Anna Dean; two daughters, Lynette and Krystal; a son, Paul D. Johnson Jr.; his stepson, Jonathan; a sister, Tanya, and 10 grandchildren.

Services: 11 a.m. tomorrow at Calvary Baptist Church, 6122 Haverford Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.