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Tribute to the Nevis stargazer Jim Johnson


Jim teaching hikers how to drink from the coconut, or "suckin' the monkey face"


If you have ever had the sublime pleasure of spending any time on the tiny little island of Nevis, you probably met Jim Johnson. Perhaps you went on a nature hike through the mountainous jungles with him in search of vervet monkeys, or gazed at the sky’s miraculous stars while he guided you through the galaxies.

You may have even gone kayaking with him. And if you did meet him, you will never ever forget him. A charmingly complex character, I can think of a number of ways to describe him. One of my favorites is Peter Pan; he was always the little boy in search of a good adventure, especially if pirates were involved. And when you take a Peter Pan heart, measure in a very large dose of intelligence, stir in a devoted love of nature and God’s wonders, a dash of rebel, a cup full of passion, a handful of honest, genuine spirit and then dust lightly with magical pixie dust - you get Jim.

A true one-of-a-kind, Jim was passionate about nature, especially that of his island-home Nevis. There was never a more devoted crusader for Nevis. He loved Nevis and truly was an “unofficial” Ambassador of the wonders of island. He had a magical way of making you clearly see every little morsel of beauty that Nevis has to offer.

His guardian angel called, long before we were ready.

Peace to you Jim, as your soul ascends to explore the other side of God’s miraculous world. Your adventures up there are sure to be epic and we take comfort in knowing you’ll be there to guide us through the majesties that heaven has to offer when we eventually arrive.


A memorial in Nevis will be held on Friday, April 23rd at 4 pm at the Eden Brown Church of God.

A U.S. memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 24 at 2:00pm at the Clemson United Methodist Church in Clemson, S.C.

Jim’s company, Top to Bottom, can be found here.

Jim’s articles on hundreds of varying subjects can be found here:

For more detailed information about Jim's life, read Deb Brouillette's great article: Nevis has lost a treasure: Jim Johnson, resident biologist, tour guide, and friend - 1959-2010.

From Jim's family:

In lieu of sending flowers we are asking for donations to be sent to Judi, Jim's oldest sister, who will place them in an account for Patrick and Jessica's educational needs. Although Jessica's education is paid for in England she does still have day to day needs that can be costly. Patrick received a small scholarship this past year but this will cover only a fraction of the cost for attending Clemson University in August.

Jim did not have any life insurance and we wish to continue Jim's dreams in regards to his kids education. Since the mail takes months to get to Nevis, and half the time gets lost, we are asking the donations be sent to Judi's house. She will set up a trust account for the two children."

Checks made payable to:

Judi Hagan or Patrick Johnson

68 Thumper Lane

Arden, N.C. 28704

Home - 828-891-4921

Note: As we both cover travel to the Caribbean, I have become a friend and colleague of Debbra Brouillette, Tropical Travel Examiner. Last year, we both traveled to Nevis at separate times, and became acquainted with Jim Johnson. I was able to meet Jim in Oct 2009, when he invited me to participate in his first annual Pickled Pepper Pirate Party Time, which I wrote about in this article.  We wish to jointly offer our sincere condolences to his family and the hundreds of friends he has made over the years. Our lives were impacted by having known him, however briefly…  Each of us plans to pay tribute to Jim through articles about his life and the monumental contributions he made throughout the 24 years he lived on the island of Nevis.


  • Ted Nelson 5 years ago

    Wish I had the pleasure to meet Jim Johnson. There are certain people who have such charisma that you will never forget them and he certainly seemed like one of them.

  • Debbra Brouillette - Tropical Travel Examiner 5 years ago

    Love this pic of Jim! And the video is priceless! Greg and his wife were there when we were last July. Your tribute is touching and special. I feel privileged to have met and interviewed him; just wish I could have spent some adventurous hours with him on the mountain.

  • Madigan Pratt 5 years ago

    I had the pleasure of taking a stroll down the beach with Jim one morning at Nisbet Plantation. Seems we couldn't go ten steps before Jim would stop and point out something interesting an untrained eye would never see. Like how to stack three tiny seashells to make a miniature snowman.

    And he was constantly picking up trash and storing it in his bag for later(proper) disposal. If, together we didn't have enough strength to to pull a recalcitrant piece of rope from the sand Jim would cut it off with his knife and place what he could in his bag. An ardent environmentalist.

    I've seen the video of Jim on a rain forest walk many times and was planning on going on one next time I was at Nisbet. That won't be possible now.

    But I will always cherish our walk on the beach. I don't think anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting Jim Johnson will ever forget the time they spent with him. And tehre aren't many people you can say that about.

    We miss you Jim.

  • Jan Ashcraft 5 years ago

    A beautiful tribute to such a great and fascinating guy. He will be missed by so many. Glad we got to meet him together my sister/friend!

  • Debi 5 years ago

    My condolences at the loss of your friend and colleague. He sounds like a lovely human being.

  • Cathy 5 years ago

    Jim was one of my big brothers, I was his baby sister. He was definitely one of a kind. He loved his family, his friends, Nevis and life. The world was his classroom and his church. I learned a lot from him during his time on earth and the more time I spend on the internet I learn even more. I miss him dearly and always will. He was taken from us way to early. Thank you for all the wonderful memories, the prayers and the words of comfort. Jim would be very humbled and yet honored.
    Jim, save me a spot. I know you will tell me all about it when I see you the next time. Love, your baby sis, Cath

  • Patty Davis 5 years ago

    My condolences to the friends of Jim Johnson and to his family.

  • Jaimie Mancham-Case 5 years ago

    Great tribute.

  • Carol Hilker 5 years ago

    If you go to Jim's Helium page you will notice that he wrote over 1400 articles on kids crafts, hiking, how to hitchike :) and various outdoor articles. You will also see that his biggest passion in life was watching his children grow up and spending time with him.

    My heart goes out to Jim's family. I am sad this man passed away so young, with so many who love them. Thankfully through his writing, people like me, who never met him, also get a chance to honor him.

  • Betty 5 years ago

    So sorry to hear about Jim Johnson. He was truly a wonderful soul. He will be missed.

  • Leslie Koch 5 years ago

    Jim Johnson sounds like an amazing man. I wish I had known him.

  • Ronna DeLoe - National Cooking Examiner 5 years ago

    Thanks for this wonderful tribute. Your column and the Tropical Travel Examiner both did a great job informing us of this tragic event.

  • Marc 5 years ago

    A fitting tribute from you about someone who sounds absolutely amazing.

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