Brett Johnson's reach was far and wide, he touched everyone he met, not just the lives of the folks at NBC 5.
Brett's brother-in-law Roy Robertson summed up his reach:
I was his big brother for 38 years,but I only knew a 100 of his friends. I wish I could have had the chance to meet the other 10,856 of them. During the time we all spent at the hospital,we shared some great stories. I want to thank all his TV friends that call or came up to see Brett.
That is what was cool about Brett his life was channel 5,but he had friends at channel 4 and 8 also. If I started to try and name his high school friends that he loved I would run out of room.
Thanks to all,
Roy, Renee, his Mother Billye and all his family.
We've received an outpouring of memories and stories from former co-workers and colleagues he met and befriended in the field.
It's obvious to us many more than the NBC 5 family are coping with this lose, so we'd like to share their memories of Brett.
(The stories continue to flow in, so check back for more stories)
Not only have I lost a brother, I have lost a colleague, a friend and a kindred spirit. Channel 5 loses a total treasure. Few people, if any, brought to television news such a wealth of insight and expression of Texas music and culture. He fed us all a steady diet of culture and wit and passion from the world that most of us never stopped to appreciate. Everything he did, he did with a style that no one in this market could ever replicate. He did everything well but he did Texana like no one else. A gifted writer, journalist, musician, artist... this list goes on and on. But the thing he did the best was friendship. He was a friend's friend and was always there for me and my family. I never, ever had a cross word with him, in the 30 years we were friends. I cannot say that of ANY other friend. I will miss you, Jick... miss you like a brother. I love you and just wish I had told you that before you left us. You would have laughed and sneered, "whatever, Jick". I'd give everything I have to hear you say those two words again. SHIPP
I am so deeply saddened to learn of Brett's passing. I worked for years in the Dallas-Fort Worth marketplace as a television news reporter at WFAA. When Brett was on a story, you knew you had to pay particular attention because he had sources everywhere!--and they were his friends who were willing to share with him without hesitation because they trusted him. What a fun soul Brett was! It's hard to think that he's gone...and so quickly, too, and so young. Fly to heaven, Brett. We'll miss you and think of you often---on t.v. and playing that guitar!
I worked with Brett at KWTV in OKC and enjoyed many nights playing music together, him on the guitar and me on the drums. Brett was one of a kind, truly real. It showed in his reporting. The business needs more like him. Love and light to his family.
Brett, know that you are dearly missed by hundreds of your friends, and thousands of your fans. Thanks for being a great chronicler of our times and lives for so many years, and thanks always for loving Fort Worth. Our prayers to you and your mother now. Scott, thanks for writing such kind words in Brett's honor. My best this week to my friends at KXAS.
I had the honor of working with Brett at Fox 4. He was a great guy and wonderful storyteller. This is such a shock. We just talked a couple of weeks ago. My prayers are with his family and his family at NBC 5.
As a former TV news reporter I used to work alongside Brett on many different type of news stories. He was always very professional, fair and objective with his reporting. He was one good reporter who will be missed. Brett's Family, Channel 5 and all the rest of us are feeling the loss!
Brett and I worked together at Fox 4. He worked out of the Fort Worth bureau, and the first time I met him...he said he showed me around "his city". He was funny, kind, and always told it like it is. He made his mark at Channel 4. No one could tell a story like him. I'll miss him... Thank you Scott Gordon for that wonderful story on Brett.
I only worked with Brett for a couple of years, but he was certainly one of the most colorful people I have ever had a chance to know. He was breath of fresh air, a comedian at times and a realist. Brett reminded that what we do for living can be fun and nothing's worth getting stressed out about. Brett was a great sport too..... I remember how we would prank call him from popularity dialer dot com and listen to him have a conversation with this fake voice on the other line. It was pretty sophomoric -- but we all got a good laugh, especially Brett. He certainly will be missed but definitely not forgotten. There's no one else like him. I'll miss you buddy.
My thoughts and prayers are not only with Brett Johnson's family but the NBC 5 family as well. Brett and I were both freelancers at NBC 5, then hired as contract employees the same day. I'll always remember that he asked me to join him as a "celebrity" at a goat milking contest during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Always the city girl, I was horrible and we lost the contest...but Brett was Brett...ready to make me laugh with that grin on his face. We have lost a great storyteller and friend to many. He will be missed.
Crystal Brown Valletta
I worked with Brett at my first TV job at KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls Texas. I was a rookie from California and Brett with a couple years of experience seemed so seasoned already. When I missed a deadline, and was upset, he said something like "Mitchell, if you can't take this, you're in the wrong business. The world will not end. It's all about handling the pressure." It was his way of comforting me and it worked. I think I've shared that with other rookies in my career, but never quite the way he did with that soft Texas accent and matter of fact delivery. I think back to that special time and our group of friends with a smile and I will pull out my scrapbooks to honor his memory.
Brett's desk was between mine and Tammy's in our newsroom. We laughed all the time...he used to tell me and Tammy he was in "redneck heaven". He brought me Jimmy Buffet CDs, homemade Kahlua his mom made, shared great stories of his dogs, great stories of scuba diving...the fabulous stories Brett told on the air didn't compare to the ones he told OFF the air. He made coming to work fun. I will miss him forever.
I'm in shock. I don't know what to say. I worked with Brett for more than 4 years at NBC5. And whenever we needed a "Truly Texas" story, there was no doubt who we could depend on. On days when he reported in the stockyards you'd better believe he'd stop at home to grab his boots and cowboy hat. And he really did love music. Those are some of his best stories and the ones I always fought to air in my newscast. Personally, Brett was really a great guy... tough on the outside, but he had a heart of gold. He never flinched when I asked if he could fry a turkey for me to take home for Thanksgiving! He'd stay late into the evening to make sure everyone that brought a turkey had one to take home. I still remember watching him walk his dogs around the neighborhood as I left work, and letting them sit shotgun in his rag-top with their doggie goggles on. It still brings a smile to my face. Brett you will be missed by those who knew you personally and those who spent their afternoons watching you on TV. My prayers are with your mom and the rest of your family.
I remember the first time I saw Brett in the newsroom at Channel 5. I was just a Production Assistant, trying to work my way up the TV ladder - and he seemed like a grumpy one. But then we started talking - and I fell in love with his big heart and his ridiculous sense of humor. Honest, humble, and sweeter than words could describe. I always put up the picture of us from my going away party at the different stations I went to. You didn't get more down-to-earth and genuine than Brett. Just saw him recently at a story and got the biggest bear hug. His cute smile, hilarious stories and warm embraces will be missed. We love you Brett.
I'm so sorry to hear of Brett's passing. He was a friend and a colleague -- and, most importantly, a straight shooter in both roles.
I will miss you you were a great mentor and always there to make me smile and laugh - even if it was at myself.
Brett was both a friend and colleague. He was a very talented reporter and a lively, spirited character. But I will remember him most for his music. Brett would invite his friends and coworkers to his house, where he would play his guitar, quite loudly I might add, and singing all your favorite Beatles songs. I pray that you are now serenading the Host of Heaven. You will be missed, Brett.
Scott, I cannot imagine a more difficult assignment than this. How do you write the obituary of a friend? To know Brett was to love him. He made me laugh every time I saw him, which wasn't often enough. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and co-workers. Nothing really prepares you for a time like this.
I worked with Brett for more than 4 years at NBC 5, and for those of you who never got the chance to meet him personally, I want you to know that he was the same man on TV... that he was when he was off. He told it like it was, always had a story to share, and couldn't wait to talk to you about his newest favorite song. Brett was passionate, loud, would go out of his way to lend a hand to someone who needed it. He had a big personality and an even bigger heart. I don't know if there's a special hangout in Heaven for True Texas Cowboys... but if there is, Brett will bring his guitar... and find it!
Brett was a friend and co-worker at KWTV in Oklahoma City back in the early 90’s. We used to get some other guys, Dan Mahoney, Brian Sweet, Herman Quarles, and a revolving cast of others together and serve as the de facto media-party house band two or three times a year - a lot of sloppy, booze-fueled garage-rock that made the parties special and generated a lot of memories. Brett was a good guitar player, and he gamely rolled with whatever we all stirred up together. As everyone knows, Brett was a good, no-nonsense-style reporter. He used to cover the crime beat in OKC, and one continuing story in particular was on this guy named Carroll Gregg – older man, maybe even an attorney or something, who got caught doing wrong. As the weeks went by and Brett stayed on the story through the court drama, you could see Gregg turn into a beaten man, slumped and suddenly dragging a foot. When Halloween rolled around, somebody had a costume party, and Brett shows up as Carroll Gregg – powdered white hair, dressed in a real orange prison jumpsuit, hunched over a bit, mumbling and dragging his leg. I laughed so hard, I thought I was gonna have an aneurysm. Brett always brought credibility to every situation – as a journalist, as a musician, as a party guest. I’ll never forget him.
Brett - even though we were in the same profession, I really never saw you as a colleague. First and foremost, you were my friend. Someone I had known for almost 30 years. Working in the same industry was just a bonus. You're forever in our hearts.
Laurie Harwell Davis
Brett. To say he was unique is an enormous understatement. I could always count on Brett to make me laugh with his wicked, sarcastic wit, especially about the news business, yet he was so full of zest for music and life and living. Brett would see the wonder and thrill in things the rest of us might find mundane, and would always take the extra time to enjoy a good song or a ride around town with his dogs. He fed us fried turkey every Thanksgiving, and was always spot-on with his restaurant recommendations. I always loved to talk Fort Worth restaurants with him-- I still don't think I found one he had not eaten at several times. I'll remember him every time I eat the Jorge Special at El Asadero, another Brett favorite. I miss you.
I worked with Brett at NBC5 for over nine years. On weekends we were the team and there was never a dull moment. Sometimes he would come across to others as grumpy, but let me tell you, deep down he was a big old teddy bear with a big old heart! He loved life and loved his friends! My fondest memory of Brett is one day after partying at Billy Bob's the previous night , we were headed out to do a mosquito story. We were going to interview someone from Tarrant County who was trapping mosquitoes to check for West Nile Virus. I told him we needed to hurry so we wouldn't miss the interview and the trapping. He looked over at me and said, "Schreiber they don't have to worry about trapping them, you can just breathe on them and they will die! Your breath is like a brewery, let's stop and get you a sandwich so something will be on your stomach besides alcohol!" Schreiber is a hard name to pronounce sometimes so Brett always called me "Smeglutoejam". Where he got that I will never know, but let me say this Brett, Smeglutoejam is going to miss you. I have lost a true friend!
When I was in college at Oklahoma Baptist University, Brett came to speak to our class. I think I was a senior and very determined to make it in this business. As a result, I had questions for the pro and one of them was “how do you handle really sad stories?” I was from small town Oklahoma and could count the number of tragedies I’d seen in my life on one hand. So, I asked the question and Brett gave some tough Brett answer. (You know what I mean when I say that.) Fast forward several months and I’m now working at KWTV as a writer with aspirations of being a reporter. I came in on one of my days off so I could go out on a story with him to learn more about reporting. I’m not sure how it came up but before I know it, he says, “Well, I was at OBU and some girl asked me about how do you handle hard stories… what a stupid question!” I can’t remember his exact words but essentially he said that girl was not going to make it if she didn’t toughen up. I let him finish and said, “Brett that was me!”
That was about 18 years ago and I think I’ve toughened up… just a bit. :)
Brett was truly one of the good guys... a true Texan, a genuine guy, and a real friend. He thought I had it all wrong because I'm such a Dallas gal and he was such a Fort Worth guy. How could someone be so confused?
Talent like Brett's is rare. I remember being envious of his gift on the guitar. So I shared with him that my Dad had given me a guitar years ago and I had never learned to play. What a waste, he thought. So - Brett drove to Dallas to tune my guitar, restring part of it and teach me a few chords. Well, anyone with zero musical talent like myself will tell you holding a guitar and learning to play are entirely different things. I never did learn to play - but I will cherish the memories of Brett trying to set me on the right path, harassing me because I couldn't stick with it... and just the memory of a friend who cared so much about others.
Brett - you are missed dearly - but your memories bring a smile to the faces of everyone who was lucky enough to know you!
I enjoyed working with Brett during my years at NBC5. He was good colleague and a good man. He could put his 'stamp' on a story and give it that Texas flavor that we ALL need, both natives and transplants. The great hereafter will enjoy his sense of humor, his pickin' and those deep-fried turkeys. Gone too soon and remembered fondly by many.
I had the privilege and good fortune of working with Brett at KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls. He also lived in the same apartment complex, so we spent a lot of our off time enjoying a cold beer and talking about music. One of my favorite memories of Brett was when he burst through my front door to demonstrate how he finally learned the opening riff to "LaBamba." He truly was one-of-a-kind! He was also one hell of a news reporter. My condolences to his family and loved ones.
I joined KXAS on-air in January 2000. The following month, Brett walked over to my desk, plopped down and started grumbling about Valentine's Day, asking if I was doing anything special with anyone. I had just broken up with a boyfriend and told Brett that I would probably hang out with a bunch of friends. In his very cavalier and laid back attitude he suggested, "Why don't I get you some Valentine's 'junk' and you give me a card and we can make the day a lot more fun." We laughed as we both made it very clear that this was simply two friends exchanging cheap gifts on a silly holiday and nothing more. On Valentine's Day he put a "Hangdogs" CD on my desk tied with a red bow and said, "Happy Valentine's Day, Ragland (he ALWAYS called me by my last name), now you can add some REAL music to your collection", implying that I needed more than Kenny Rogers & Aerosmith CDs! Brett and I had not seen each other in years, and we last emailed each other about a month ago to get together, but it didn't pan out. We promised we would make it happen before this summer ends, and now it never will. I still have that Hangdogs CD and it will always remind me of my first Valentine's Day in Dallas. It was one with no strings attached and no commitments...just one with an incredible friend who will always have a special place in my heart. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family, friends and colleagues. Brett, your wit, humor & charm will always be cherished, my friend.
Rikki Ragland Marver
(The stories continue to flow in, so check back for more stories)