Obituary of Billy Joe Johnson

Billy Joe Johnson, age 79, a resident of Devon, Kansas, passed away Wednesday, August 9, 2023, at the Pittsburg Health & Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburg, Kansas.

He was born July 13, 1944, the son of Lawrence Leo Johnson and Esther A. Swartz Johnson.  Billy grew up in rural Deerfield, Missouri where he enjoyed farming and working with cattle.

He first married Donna Beisly and they owned and operated their own dairy farm near Deerfield for several years prior to their divorce.

At the age of eighteen, he became a licensed auctioneer and worked in this profession throughout his life.   In addition, Billy also worked for many years as assistant manager of Whiteside’s IGA which then became Gene’s IGA. He later took a job with the Bourbon County Public Works crew where he was employed until his retirement in October of 2011.

Billy married Kathy Harper Underwood on October 18, 1996.  Following their marriage, Billy moved to the Devon area where he continued to farm and raise cattle.  After his retirement, he befriended several members of the Amish community, and he frequently provided them with transportation.  One of Billy’s favorite auctioning gigs was the annual Christian Heights Country Store Auction.  He faithfully volunteered his auction skills for many years and helped to raise thousands of dollars for the benefit of the school.

Billy will be lovingly missed by all who knew him.

The family would like to express their thanks to Pittsburg Health & Rehab and to Gentiva Hospice for the excellent love and care for Billy over the last several months.

Survivors include his wife, Kathy, of the home; three children, Tabitha Hamersley (David) of Nevada, Missouri; Diana Heckman (Jerry) of Fulton, Kansas and Julia Brown (Keith) of Ft. Scott, Kansas; thirteen grandchildren, Stephanie Lilley (Bradley), Dr. Chad Johnson (Becca), Trenton Johnson, Catherine Johnson, Landon Johnson, Gabriel Hamersley, Opal Heckman (Kyle), Whitney Heckman, Ashley Rodriguez, Jerad Heckman (Andi), Jenny Heckman (Kaden), Lily Brown and Alex Brown and twenty-one great-grandchildren.  Also surviving is a brother, Roger Johnson.

Billy was preceded in death by a son, Doug Johnson and an infant daughter, Regina Kay Johnson, a brother, Jerry Johnston and a sister, Claribel Kerrick.

Rev. Bill Smith will conduct funeral services at 11:00 A.M. Monday, August 14th at the Cheney Witt Chapel.

Burial will follow in the Centerville Cemetery.

The family will receive friends on Monday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Memorials are suggested to Ft. Scott Christian Heights School and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Ft. Scott, KS 66701.  Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at

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