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Chatham Farmer Reaps Bushels Of Kindness

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SILK HOPE, N.C. — As Russell Johnson prepares to harvest corn for the last time, he can't help but recall the bumper crop of friendship he experienced several growing seasons ago.

Johnson plans to retire from farming his Chatham County spread at the end of the year, but not before he formally thanks friends and neighbors who pulled together to help him when he most needed it.

In 1993, Johnson had to undergo heart bypass surgery at about the same time as he was to plant that year's crop. So, the community pitched in and got the crop in the ground for him.

"It absolutely meant everything. It was just the community coming together," he said.

"We think back now, and it still brings tears to our eyes," said his wife, Hannah. "There are good people in this world."

Neighbors said they don't think they did anything that extraordinary.

Roy Johnson helped Russell Johnson with the 1993 crop, and his widow, Betty, recalled that he had a good time doing it.

"It just meant the world to him," Betty Johnson said. "He just loved to help people. That's just the way the whole community is."

Russell Johnson said he plans to help his friends on their farms in the coming years to try to repay his debt of gratitude.

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