When John Young worked as the chaplain at the Forsyth Correctional Center in Winston-Salem, he often saw children visiting their fathers who were inmates at the prison.
Young told his wife, Pansy, that he also saw these children later on Sundays, sometimes in church, Pansy Young said.
“They need help,” Young told his wife.
John and Pansy Young later started the Potter’s House in 1998 after leaving their home in the North Hills neighborhood and moving to a home on East 25th Street, she said. They set up the Potter’s house in that modest home, initially serving 17 children.
Their faith-based ministry is now known as the Potter’s House Family Resource Center that provides assistance to low-income families and homeless people.
The Potter’s House, which is at 1229 E. 25th St., provided about 1,000 meals last month to employees of Forsyth Medical Center, city police officers and firefighters as well as employees of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Pansy Young said.
“He loved his community, and he loved his city,” Pansy Young said of her husband. “I loved him. He was a man who loved people.”
The Rev. Johnny “John” Young died May 3 of cancer at age 71, his wife said.
“My heart is so broken,” Pansy Young said. “He put up a battle.”
A native of Elizabethtown in Bladen County, John Young came to Winston-Salem in 1967 to attend Winston-Salem State College, which is now known as Winston-Salem State University. Young graduated in 1971 from WSSU.
Young worked for about nine years during the 1980s as a police officer and a firefighter as part of the city’s Public-Safety Officer program.
City Manager Lee Garrity said that Young was a calm, gracious and caring person.
“I remember his dedication to the Potter’s House and all of the effort that he and his wife did by providing day-care opportunities and soccer opportunities in the community.
“It’s sad to see him go,” Garrity said.
In 2006, Young received a divinity degree at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. While he was a student at WFU, John Young served as a intern at Mount Tabor United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, Pansy Young said.
“He (Young) was a great man of God,” said the Rev. Mark Key, the senior pastor at Mount Tabor United Methodist Church.
As a minister, Young preached in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and South Africa, his wife said.
Jill Crainshaw, the vice dean for faculty development and academic initiatives at the WFU Divinity School, said that Young made a lasting impression on her.
“Having Johnny as a student in our Divinity School community was a gift,” Crainshaw said in an email.
“He brought wisdom about ministry in general and about ministry in Winston-Salem in particular with him into our program.
“He was a tireless advocate for people on the margins, and he had a desire always to learn and grow as a minister and person of faith,” Crainshaw said. “I will miss him.”
During his career, Young also became a renowned barbecue pitmaster.
Young and his wife operated the Carolina Smokin’ John’s BBQ, which was named the 2013 Grand Champion of the ninth annual Texas Pete Twin City Rib-Fest. The event was held in June 2013 at the corner of North Marshall and West Fifth streets in downtown Winston-Salem.
“He was always smiling,” Alan Nichols, a pitmaster who lives in Belews Creek said of his friend, John Young. “He was striving to be the best.”
Young was a member of the N.C. Barbecue Society and the Kansas City Barbecue Society, Nichols said.
“One of his specialties was cooking a whole hog, especially the ribs,” Nichols said. “He touched so many lives.”
Jim Early, the founder and chief executive of the N.C. Barbecue Society, said that Young taught at the society’s three cooking schools, including the one at Tanglewood Park.
“He was a super nice guy,” Early said. “He had a wonderful sense of humor.”