Joseph “Jay” Charles Johnson of Jacksonville, FL, originally Bristol, CT, passed away on the last week of September in a plane crash near Eagle River in Wisconsin. At the time of his death, he was working as a survey pilot and multi-engine instructor for Surdex Corporation based in St. Louis, MO. Jay’s aviation certifications included being a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Rated (CFII), and a Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI). These certifications were obtained at ATP Flight School in Hartford, CT, where Jay attended from 2018-2019. His first job as a survey pilot was at Geomni Corporation in Jacksonville, FL, where he worked from 2019-2020. In total, Jay flew over 1,200 hours in 41 states in his aviation career.
Before becoming a pilot, Jay earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Guitar Performance at Western CT State University in Danbury, CT. He dedicated countless hours to practicing his craft and advancing his skills as an accomplished musician, even establishing his own Jay Johnson Jazz Trio that performed at various venues and starting his own company, Charlie Paolo Custom Guitars and Effects, which was named after both of his grandfathers. As the owner of this company, Jay created multiple types of guitar pedals that he put together using self-taught knowledge of engineering and design. This endeavor brought him to Nashville, TN and to Bellingham, WA, where he performed with other professional musicians to showcase his pedals. Jay’s creativity and ability to think outside the box also led him to start another company, Unintended Inspiration, which sold clothing and apparel online.
Jay attended St. Matthew School in Forestville, CT, and St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, CT, where he was known for playing Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner” on his guitar at school events and where he won the 2013 Connecticut Association of Schools Outstanding Arts Award. He composed several original songs and film scores during this time as well, some of which can be found on YouTube. Jay also possessed athletic abilities, which he demonstrated in karate, basketball, soccer, track, and especially baseball, where he earned the Bristol Parks & Recreation Intermediate League McCooey Outstanding Hitter award in 2010. His interests and pastimes included coin collecting, cooking for his loved ones, fishing, playing games, and taking numerous walks on the beach.
Jay demonstrated a strong work ethic and was driven to succeed in everything he did. He persevered through challenges in competitive fields, showing self-discipline, a thirst for knowledge, and the ability to focus. Jay truly embodied what it meant to have a good heart and didn’t hesitate to help others or offer advice. He was selfless and cared deeply for his family, friends, girlfriend, and those in need. Jay’s sense of humor was unique, witty, and contagious, and he always wanted to make you smile. He was generous, compassionate, and sincere, and was an attentive and loving son and brother who was always there for his family. It is some comfort to his family that he has gotten the respect and recognition he deserved. He will be dearly missed.
In addition to all of these admirable qualities, Jay’s spirituality and awareness of God in his life was very apparent. He was active in his faith in various ways, which included being an altar server and the director of a worship band at WCSU. Jay possessed a consciousness of God that was rare and beautiful and that made him humble and self-effacing. It was clear he had a personal relationship with God and he would always say that he felt grateful and blessed. He even had a small tattoo of a Chi Rho symbol on his left wrist to remind him that Christ was always with him.
Jay is survived by his loving and devoted parents Joseph and Maria Johnson of Bristol, CT, sister Laura Trabucchi and her husband Peter Trabucchi of Newington, CT, girlfriend Jennifer Griffis of Jacksonville, FL, aunt and uncle Antoinette and Don Cain of Stroudsburg, PA, aunt and uncle Gerard and Joan Apruzzese of Murrells Inlet, SC, his godparents, and many cousins and friends. He is pre-deceased by both his maternal and paternal grandparents.
The visiting hours will be Friday, October 8th, from 4 to 7 PM at Funk Funeral Home, 35 Bellevue Avenue, Bristol who has the honor of serving Jay’s family. Friends are invited to go directly to St. Matthew Church at 120 Church Ave, Bristol on Saturday morning, October 9th at 10 AM to attend a Mass of Christian Burial and are also invited to attend the committal service immediately following at Holy Family Mausoleum in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Bristol. Jay will also be remembered and honored in Gallinaro, Italy, where his ancestors originated from.
Memorial contributions can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and/or the nonprofit organization Angel Flight, where Jay dreamed of piloting those in need (https://www.angelflightne.org). Please visit Jay’s memorial website at www.FunkFuneralHome.com
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