Cover photo for Marcel Henry Johnson's Obituary
1970 Marcel Henry Johnson 2023

Marcel Henry Johnson

April 15, 1970 — June 2, 2023

Santa Clara, Utah

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“He is in the sun, the wind, the rain, he is in the air you breathe and with every breath you take. 

He sings a song of hope and cheer, there’s no more pain, no more fear. 

You’ll see him in the clouds above, hear him whisper words of love, you’ll be together before long, until then listen for his song.”

~ Author Christy Ann Martine

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Marcel was a great son, partner, friend, teammate, and an advocate for youth sports for black men and women and underserved populations. Competitive athletics was his “way out” and “protection from real life” as he grew up in Oakland, California. He found some of his lifelong friends and family in sport and he will be missed by so many. 

Marcel excelled since an early age in multiple sports taking after his grandfather, John Henry Johnson, Football Hall of Fame inductee who played for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers, and his uncle Curt Flood, who played in the MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Marcel was a competitor starting from a young age by “ripping the cover off the ball” and “having the best play(s) in the tournament.” As he grew in stature he grew in excellence at Fremont High School in Oakland, California, playing baseball and basketball. Marcel tried football, because of the legacy of his grandfather, and because of the impact of one of his best friends, Bart Ensley’s father, Coach Ensley. But with 2-a days and only a few games each season, Marcel returned to the basketball court and baseball field. He wanted to continue his family legacy of excelling in athletics and making a huge impact with his giant spirit, laughter, and love of competition. 

Marcel was drafted into the MLB at 18 and flew to Florida for Spring Training right after high school graduation. He was blessed to be part of the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves organizations and played for the Gulf Coast League Mets, and in the Appalachian League with the Kingsport Mets and the Pulaski Braves. He left his love of baseball after three years in the Minors and went to his other love, college basketball, to have a chance at yet another sport. Marcel played for Salt Lake Community College, where he still holds records, and continued his sports career at North Dakota State University, where he teased about his “claim to fame”, being on most of the front pages of their media programs. After college Marcel continued in his passion surrounded by athletics and coached, officiated, and mentored student-athletes of all ages in multiple sports and levels including collegiate. 

Marcel was able to live in multiple states across the nation, either playing or participating in sports, and found his solace and peace on the court or on the field. He was so excited to find another basketball family like that of which he grew up with, in St. George, Utah with Nets on Fire. A “full-circle moment.” He truly loved the community Nets serves and he embodied the leadership values Nets strengthens.

It’s no surprise he then found his Life Partner, Katie Kamachi, on the sidelines of a basketball court. Marcel was happy to have a “home base” with “his KK” in Washington County, Utah. Marcel loved going on drives to the water and reservoirs, traveling to new places, watching games at the college and high school level, going to Las Vegas to meet up with friends and family, working on his and KK’s bucket list, spending time at the gym working out, sweating it out, and perfecting his trick shots, eating his KK’s cooking and helping out with his perfect grilling skills, telling his stories, and of course officiating with a great network of officials at Nets on Fire. Marcel was readying for the upcoming basketball summer league season and loved being “back on the court” in any fashion. He fell in love with officiating because “they pay you to come workout, be positive, and teach the game” he so loved.

Marcel passed suddenly on Friday, June 2nd surrounded by love from his life partner, Katie, and her girls Mia, Kiana, & Ava. We know he was at peace with his “transition to greatness” and will help so many even after his passing. 

Marcel was preceded in death and had a great reunion in heaven led by his grandfather, John Henry Johnson, father, Michael Henry Johnson, grandmothers, Barbara and Nannie, family members, including Toni, Terri, John L, and Barbara Brown. He had many great coaches and teammates, like Derick Lynch, who received him well with his many great friends and family members who passed before him.

Marcel was survived by his life partner, Katie Kamachi, his children, his mother and her life partner, Joellen Hicks & Andrew Thompson, his siblings, sister Cicely, brother Allen, nephew Chris, nieces Breauna and Cecelia, 2 great nephew’s, 1 great niece, cousins Lesley, Denise, Hank, Buford, Evelyn, and Michael, uncles, Roger and John Henry Jr, aunties, Kathy and Carolyn, and his group of best friends from growing up, that all considered Cel their brother. 

Marcel lived a full life in 53 short years and reminds us to have a “Positive Mind, Positive Vibe, and Positive Life”, to “Love one another”, that “Only God can Judge me…”, “Only the strong survive”, and the “…goal in life is to be filthy rich, but if (we) can’t…(then) be rich in knowledge, be rich in thought, be rich in loyalty, be rich in laughter, be rich in family, and be rich in love.” 

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A special thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for the family as we grieve this sudden loss. An additional thank you and appreciation for all his coaches, teammates, friends, family, athletes, educators, and parents of all those mentioned who helped groom and love our big guy along the way. There are too many names to list, but love is all the same. We were all lucky to have time with our Cel no matter the name you used: Marcelus, Celly, celery, MJ, Mr. Marcel, Big Cel, Mr. Cel, or CellyCel, to name a few. 

We all knew when we were with him, we were guaranteed some laughs and great moments. We know you are working hard and practicing for your next “big game.” Just remember: “The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the Cel.” 

Rest in Love big guy. Aloha ‘Oe…until we meet again…

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In lieu of formal services private celebrations of life will be performed. Please contact Marcel’s life partner, Katie, best friend, Bart, or first cousin, Evelyn for more information. 

Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 South Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454.

Family and friends are invited to sign Marcel’s online guest book at www.spilsburymortuary.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marcel Henry Johnson, please visit our flower store.

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