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James B. Johnson, operated store in Gowanda; July 20, 1925 -- April 14, 2012

James B. Johnson, of Gowanda, who with his wife owned and operated the Ben Franklin Store in downtown Gowanda for more than 35 years, died Saturday in Buffalo General Medical Center. He was 86.

Born in Syracuse, he served overseas as a radar technician in Army Air Forces in World War II and as a radarman in the Air Force in the Korean War.

After earning a degree in agriculture from Cornell University, he joined Swift Poultry and Meat Packing Co., traveling extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada for his job.

He met his wife-to-be, Jeanne E. Erickson, while working for Swift. They were married in Chicago in 1957.

In Gowanda, they began operating the Ben Franklin Store on Main Street in 1963. A mainstay of the village business district, it closed in 1996.

Mr. Johnson was a former master of Phoenix Lodge 262, Free & Accepted Masons. He was a member of the Springfield, Mass., Consistory and the Royal Arch Masons, from which he received a dedicated service award.

He also was a member of Gowanda Post 409, American Legion, and James J. Cruden Post 5007, Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Gowanda.

His wife died in 2003.

Surviving are a daughter, Mary McCann; a son, William; and a brother, William.

Services, with military honors, will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Schindler Funeral Home, 44 Center St., Gowanda.

[ANDERSON]