Westmont Magazine A Good Age of an Annuity
As a U.S. Army Air Corps combat pilot during World War II, Frank Johnson ’51 faced his toughest experience after the war when combat-related trauma nearly overcame him. Severely depressed and refusing to work because he thought the government owed him a living, Frank underwent two rounds of electric shock therapy, hoping for a cure. Instead, the treatment left him disabled.
But during his stay in the hospital, Frank picked up a Gideon Bible and began reading. The scriptures accomplished what the shock therapy could not. “I rededicated myself to Christ and that turned my life around,” Frank explains.
Realizing he needed better Bible training, Frank came to Westmont where he majored in ancient Greek history. He later earned a master’s degree in religious education at California Baptist Seminary. Interested in teaching, Frank got his credential at the University of Southern California where he eventually completed two master’s degrees in education as well as a Ph.D. in educational psychology. After teaching for 13 years, he became a school psychologist and moved to Santa Barbara in 1968. He worked for the city school system there for 20 years (10 years as the head school psychologist). Despite his disability, he enjoyed a long and productive career.
Frank’s experience with depression helped him support his wife, Edie, who suffered from recurring bouts of the same illness during her life. He describes their 54-year marriage as strong and fulfilling. “I have seen the blessing of God in each step of my life,” he says.
The Johnsons’ two children, Sharon Battles ’71 and Paul ’73, grew up going to homecomings with their parents and chose to attend Westmont. Paul is a Presbyterian minister in Danville, Va., and his two children attend the University of Virginia. Sharon was a teacher and writer who died in 1997 from bone cancer.
After Sharon’s death, Frank began to think about planning his estate. He took action after his wife developed Alzheimer’s disease and passed away May 7, 2002. Selling his home, he moved into a room in a retirement center and used the proceeds to fund gift annuities with Westmont and Biola, Edie’s alma mater. Frank receives income for life and the colleges get a gift when he is gone.
“When Edie died, I decided to make a clean break with the past so I could concentrate on where the Lord wants me,” he says. “I got rid of a lot of stuff so my son doesn’t have to do it, and I decided to make my gifts now rather than through my estate.
“My CPA says that 80 is the right age to do this,” Frank continues. “He is pleased with the great annuity rate and the return, which amounts to 12.6 percent with the tax benefits. Anytime I think about it, I feel good.
“It’s exciting to watch Westmont flourish,” Frank explains. “The college is on the right track. They handled my annuity very well, and I am happy with the arrangement. I would do it again.
“I hope all alumni will consider what they can do for Westmont — they will be blessed as I have been.”
Frank has sung in the church choir at Trinity Baptist for 27 years — at the age of 80 he still goes on choir trips. A longtime member of the Gideons, he continues to hand out Bibles through this organization.
Despite quadruple bypass surgery in 1978 and an operation four years ago to replace a faulty aortic valve, Frank walks every day and appreciates his good health.
“I am grateful to be living and glorifying the Lord,” he says.