Lancia family honors former employee

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Lancia family honored a former employee Monday by dedicating the Alzheimer’s unit at the Belmont Manor Nursing Home in St. Clairsville.

During a ceremony in the newly named Judy Johnson Alzheimer’s Unit, Giuseppe, Guirino and Joseph Lancia, owners and operators of the nursing home, unveiled a plaque in memory of Johnson, who died of cancer in September. Giuseppe Lancia said when he and his father, Joseph, first hired employees prior to Belmont Manor’s September 1995 opening, they were unfamiliar with Johnson.

“We hired a lot of good people at the onset,” Giuseppe Lancia said. “Judy seemed to be very nice, very caring, and we took a shot with her and man, did we hit the jackpot.”

Johnson worked in the 10-bed Alzheimer’s unit for her entire career, often working six days a week and rarely calling off. Guirino Lancia said Johnson loved her job, which was apparent from watching her work each day.

“She didn’t work in a cushy, comfortable place, she worked in a place many might think is too dark to handle,” he said of the unit. “But that didn’t bother Judy. She brought joy, a smile, life, light and laughter into the nursing home because she loved working here.”

Guirino Lancia said Johnson had the ability to make even the most scared resident feel at ease through her smile and calming nature. He said she was very aware of her abilities and skills and put them to good use.

“She’s humbled me and taught me about what is most important,” he said. “That’s to serve without complaining, be quick to care for others, be a light in the darkness and have a thankful heart.”

Ohio Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, also was on hand Monday to honor Johnson, who he said he has known since childhood. Cera said while Johnson was typically quiet and reserved, her caring nature was always apparent.

“The Olack and Johnson families have a long history of helping others, and she continued that,” he said.

Johnson’s husband, John, said he was able to inform Johnson of the dedication prior to her passing.

“She was too weak to show a lot of emotion, but I could see it in her eyes that she was honored and humbled,” John Johnson said. “She thought and cared about these people all the time, even when she was at home. She truly loved this place.”