1/22/1944 – 11/30/2020
Thomas M. Johnson, a longtime resident of Santa Barbara County, peacefully passed away on Nov. 30, 2020, at the age of 76. Tom was born on Jan. 22, 1944, in South Pittsburg, Tennessee to Clay and Leatha Johnson. He was raised in Rome, Georgia along with his 12 brothers and sisters. At the age of 11, he and his family moved to Eagle Rock, California. He then moved to Santa Barbara in 1961.
As a young man, Tom, affectionately known as “Tommy” by many, began working as a mechanic while pursuing his passion for drag racing. In 1963, he moved to Las Vegas where he lived briefly before relocating to Lancaster, California. He returned to Santa Barbara in 1968 and worked for Butts Buick and Goodyear Tire before he opened Tom’s Tire Service, his first of three tire stores throughout Santa Barbara County. He was a member of the Chevrollers Car Club of Santa Barbara.
After many years in the tire business, he found himself tending the land he leased out to a local flower grower in Carpinteria, where he lived. Soon he became more involved in farming the flowers than he was with his tire stores, so one-by-one he began selling them off and as he did, he increased the acreage and his knowledge and became a fulltime flower grower and owner of Wel Bran Flowers. He remained passionate about cars and racing, and to add to his list of growing hobbies and skills, he learned to ride horses and found enjoyment participating in the team penning event in the local Fiesta rodeo.
In the late ’80s, Tom purchased property in the Santa Ynez Valley to further increase his flower growing operation and he eventually made the move to Buellton. During this time, he collected several classic cars, including a race car which led him to become personally active in racing again. In 2005, Tom retired as a flower grower, but he never stopped working. Tom was raised to work hard and be generous, so he was never without something to keep him busy. He dedicated much of his time to restoring classic cars for himself and others. He had a passion for youth auto shop and racing programs and would spend countless hours raising money for local high school programs. He could always be found at car shows with his award-winning red ‘57 Chevy Nomad selling raffle tickets to benefit those programs.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 29 years Lynne Ward Johnson and their two children Parker Johnson and Miranda Johnson; his son Thomas Johnson Jr., his former wife Barbara Bruhn and their two daughters Lori Razo (Mark) and Tammie Johnson-Fulmer; and his grandchildren Brianna Johnson, Nicholas Razo, Mark Razo, Rebekah Razo, Daniel Fulmer and Kelsey Fulmer. Tom is also survived by two sisters, Peggy Saunders of California and Ann Gossett of Georgia, along with numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his grandson Joseph Thomas De Alba.
Tom was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. You could call him for just about anything. He was truly a “Tom” of all trades and he was always willing to lend a hand or lend a tool. He loved spending time with his family and friends, and his smile and laughter will truly be missed by many.
A memorial service to remember and honor Tom’s life will be planned at a later date.