By Kelly Kozel
Johnny Warren was one of a kind. He was a private family man, a kind and generous neighbor, and for over 25 years, also the plumber who saved the day for many East Atlantans.
If you didn’t know Johnny, he might have seemed a bit mysterious in his signature black jeans, black cowboy shirt (black tank top in summer), cowboy boots, and oversized belt buckle.
“I don’t know how many ever called Johnny Warren,” said Jelena Crawford, SAND editor.
With forty-plus years as a plumber, 25 of those as master plumber, Johnny worked in this part of town for years and years. He’s probably been in your house. He was over here working on my water heater just last weekend. First, he cleaned it, then warned me that the thermocouple could go any day. It did the next day. He didn’t charge to come back and replace it, which he did without complaining.
He had worked on a lot of things in this house. I looked forward
to hiring him to replace all the pipes later this year. He was honest, methodical, punctual, and didn’t overcharge. He could have charged a lot more. He gave stern advice and expected you to be an intelligent homeowner. He didn’t BS you. I can’t say we had much time to talk, but he once told me he was a native Atlantan from over by the old West End who left school when his dad told the kids they’d have to get jobs. He went around to the different tradesmen to find out who made the most money, and settled on plumbing, which he had done ever since.
“I want to model my own professional practice on honest craftsmen like him if I can meet that standard!” neighbor David Adams said. “I knew Johnny for many years. His was one of the two families who predated me and stayed in the neighborhood since I bought my house in 1981. I’ve always known him as a very pleasant and private man. I appreciated his most-manicured-lawn-in-the-neighborhood status. He rescued me from my plumbing emergencies fourteen times between January 1998 and March 2011. My records don’t go back as far as 1981, but I’m sure he helped me out many more times than that. He was always Johnny on the spot when it came to responding to a call for help. On one occasion, he came by only to be glad to come over the next day for yet another problem. He was a wonderful and patient mentor to the apprentices he brought along to help. I am greatly sorry for his abrupt departure. He will be sorely missed.”
Neighbor Terry Doherty remembers Johnny not only for his expertise but also for his collection of vintage cars. “One beautiful afternoon a man from Tennessee with a flatbed truck came to collect three of the 70’s era Dodge muscle cars Johnny had sold him. They’d been moved out of John’s yard and were parked on the street in all their Super Bee glory. It was like being transported back in time. Before long the word got out up and down the street, and a crowd arrived to ogle those cars. I know Johnny got a kick out of that.”
Added neighbor Annie Kelahan, “In this busy world, there are some people who serve as anchors for the rest of us who are there when called, who are steadfast and responsive, and who quietly and professionally do what needs to be done. It has been my privilege to have lived across the street from someone like that for many years.
Johnny’s sudden death is a loss to me and to our neighborhood. With his passing, we have lost a little bit of what makes our street special and unique. I am grateful to have known him.”
Johnny “Body” Warren, husband, father, grandfather, brother, neighbor, friend, and master plumber…We will miss you, your quiet integrity, and your style.
EAV Loses Anchor of a Tradesman
By Kelly Kozel