Judge John “Johnny” Dewese was born on October 4, 1951, in Fairfield County, South Carolina, to the late James C. and Pearl Dewese. Johnny was raised, nurtured and loved in a Christian home by his parents, and a community of aunts, uncles, church elders, and older siblings who taught him the faith that would carry him throughout his life. He joined Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church at an early age and was later a Deacon, pillar, and champion for the church and church community until the day he died.
Johnny attended the public schools of Chester County, graduating from Great Falls High School in 1969. He continued his education first at Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill, SC, later Voorhees College in Denmark, SC, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Benedict College in 1973. With a thirst for knowledge and success, he then attended Winthrop University, graduating with a Master of Education degree in 1987.
Following his graduation from Benedict, he worked for a short time as a Manager for J.P. Stevens in Greenville, SC. After leaving J.P. Stevens, he found his professional calling and worked at South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation for thirty years in various roles, eventually becoming a revered Area Supervisor in the Lancaster, SC office, where his colleagues have said they were blessed to have him as their leader. After retirement he worked as a Job Coach for the Special Services Department for the Fairfield County School District.
Johnny was a fervent civic servant as well, in 2014 he became a Magistrate Judge for Fairfield County, and later a Judge for the Town of Winnsboro, SC.
Leadership, service and duty was a theme in Judge Dewese’s professional and civic life. In addition to being a member, and former Basileus for the Kappa Pi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, he was a former National Chair of the nation-wide state and federal advocacy group The Coalition for Juvenile Justice, former President of Lancaster County Literacy Council, former President of the South Carolina State Employees Association, former Vice-Chairman and Director of Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, former President of The Great Falls Optimist Club, he was also Member of the Catawba Regional Private Industry Council, served as a Board Member for Chester County Department of Social Services, a Tri-County Sister Help Board Member, a Board Member for Rock Hill Children's Attention Home, and a Board Member for the Mitford Water and Sewer District, and a Mt Zion Lodge #127, F&A Mason. He was also a licensed funeral director.
Johnny was married in 1981 to the former Jennifer Washington, to whom he remained close, and they were blessed with two children, a son, and a daughter, whom they raised together in
Johnny was preceded in death by his parents; his stepmother, Susie Boulware-Dewese; his brothers: Leroy Dewese, and James “Foot” Dewese, Jr; a younger sister, JoAnn Dewese Armstrong Lee, and a beloved brother-in-law, Rev. Vandell Davis.
Judge Dewese is survived by a son, Jared Dewese of Washington, DC; a daughter, Jessica (Wilbur) Dewese-Jones of Great Falls, SC; their mother, Jennifer Washington-Dewese of Great Falls, SC; his beloved twin granddaughters, Aaliyah and Olivia Dewese-Jones; and a beloved goddaughter, Alexis Prioleau of Columbia, SC. He also leaves eight siblings, Mary (Lester) Cunningham of Winnsboro, SC; Pearlie (Dwight) Evans of Lancaster, SC; Virginia (Eugene) Campbell; Maude (the late Rev. Vandell) Davis of Winnsboro, SC; David (Betty) Dewese of Great Falls, SC; Randy (Brenda) Dewese of Blackstock, SC; Donald (Sunya) Dewese of Columbia, SC; and Timothy (Wanda) Dewese of Winnsboro, SC; two beloved sisters-in-law, Maggie B. Dewese, and Rev. Bertheia Maria Washington-Kelly, and a brother-in-law, Darryl (Tracy) Washington. Johnny is also survived by four step brothers, Leon Boulware, Roddie Boulware, Roosevelt Boulware, all of Great Falls, SC, and Raymond Boulware of New York, New York; six step-sisters, Shirley Evans of Winnsboro, SC; Carolyn Kennedy, Valentina (Robert) Boulware, Harriett Boulware, Karen (James) White all of Great Falls, SC; and Susie Brown of Patterson, NJ; a step-sister-in-law, Estelle Boulware of Great Falls, SC. Judge Dewese is also survived by his best friend, John Kelly of Winnsboro, SC, and a family friend, Fredrick Willis of Chicago, IL, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives, friends, and colleagues who will forever cherish his memory and preserve his legacy.
Funeral service will be 1 pm Saturday December 3, 2022 at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 2508 Camp Welfare Rd. Winnsboro SC 29180. Visitation will be 12 noon to 7:30 pm Friday December 2, 2022 at Russell-McCutchen Funeral Home, 324 S Vanderhorst St. Winnsboro SC 29180.
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