When Bob & Shirley Johnson moved here in 1966 from Madisonville, they found themselves surrounded by many others who were willing to be involved and make a difference in the community.
Bob worked at NuTone and became the first black executive in the company. Shirley was a nurse and active in the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Bob played a major role in the Ken-Sil (Kennedy Heights-Silverton) recreation league.
The couple was awarded the KHCC Citizen(s) of the Year in 1978, the first couple to be chosen for the award. Shirley was co-President of KHCC, President of the Shroder School PTA and, in 1977-79, was the President of the Cincinnati Council of PTA’s. She faithfully tutored students at Shroder.
Bob was active with Ken-Sil beginning in 1968. At that time, blacks were not allowed to be on a Knothole team so the recreation league provided a way for the children to have an athletic outlet. Bob, having played in the Cincinnati Reds minor league baseball system, took an active role in that Ken-Sil sport. At Ken-Sil’s height, there were 20 baseball teams, 17 basketball teams, a girls’ soccer team, and a football team. The league began to be noticed because it was winning games in every sport. Because of the community, both black and white children were involved. Whites, who could be involved in white only leagues, chose to have their children be a part of Ken-Sil.
Shirley was involved in Ken-Sil through the Women’s Auxiliary, which raised funds for the program. She described an active life of working full-time, tutoring at Shroder, and then coming home to tend to family and personal life. She remembers that she and Ce Holm exchanged times when they would pick up each other’s children at school so that the other could attend to volunteer activities and duties. Their children have benefitted from the model of community service of their parents; each has found a way to have leadership roles in their community.
The couple named others who were integral to the community when they were active: Don Peterson, Pastor of KH Presbyterian Church. Richard Hunter, Mose Williams, Chuck Bronson, Stan Lambert, Luther & Alice Church, Joe Crawford, Ev & Sue Kitchens, the Magorian family, and Roger Engstrand.