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B-A community mourns loss

Johnson remembered as ‘awesome team player’

The Bellwood-Antis community is mourning the loss of Susanne M. (Whiteford) Johnson, 60, of Bellwood, a local business owner, former Bellwood Borough Council member and dedicated community volunteer.

Johnson died Sunday of cancer, according to her obituary published earlier this week.

When Antis Township Supervisor C.J. Caracciolo moved to Antis Township as a 15-year-old, Johnson was one of the first people he met.

“When you moved to the community, you had a friend in Sue,” Caracciolo, 38, said. “I don’t know how you knew Sue, but you knew her. She was the soul of the community.”

Caracciolo graduated from high school with one of her sons and as an adult first served with Johnson on the parish council of St. Joseph Catholic Church. When Caracciolo became a township supervisor in 2009, he served with Johnson on the Bellwood-Antis Park and Recreation Authority.

“Sue was an awesome team player. Not only on park and rec but at the fire company, the community picnic and the list goes on and on,” he said. “It was a privilege to know Sue and her family. I last saw her Saturday, and she passed on Sunday. I feel so badly for the family, and her passing has left such a huge void in the community.”

If Caracciolo needed to discuss a recreation topic with Johnson, he said he knew he could call her early in the morning and find her at her beauty salon, Sue Whiteford’s Beauty Salon.

“No matter how early I’d call, she’d be cutting someone’s hair,” he said.

About 10 years ago, when Pinky Newberry, 77, served on Bellwood Borough Council with Johnson for four years, the two often traveled to meetings together with Johnson doing the driving.

“She was a wonderful person and what a great loss to the community. We are suffering greatly,” Newberry of Bellwood said.

“Sue was kind, beautiful, loving and caring about everybody. She was so hardworking and very loved,” Newberry said. “She was involved in so many things from the fire company fish frys, the pool and helping people place memorial benches around the area. She helped out with all those things.”

As a council member, Newberry said, Johnson worked with others to solve many community problems, such as drinking water issues and water run-off problems in neighborhoods. Johnson built relationships and consensus and was very solution-focused, Newberry said, “We are going to miss her terribly,”

Caracciolo agreed and said he learned a lot from Johnson, including, “It’s important to become a part of the community you live in and to be involved and a part of it. The community is your extended family, and you need to take pride in where you live. No one exemplified that better than she did.”

Johnson is survived by her husband of 40 years, David E. Johnson, two sons and two grandchildren. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.

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