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Monday, July 25, 2016

Remembering Cross Carrier Chuck

Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at 3:11 PM

For 11 years, Chuck Johnson traveled the U.S., from coast to coast and back again, and then again, and again.

When I first came to work at the Nevada Daily Mail in 2002, there was a small photo in the newsroom of a man dragging a huge cross behind him. I asked about it, and I don't really recall the response -- but most likely there were shrugs and a brief explanation that oh, that's Cross Carrier Chuck. He's been through here a few times.

A few months later, I met him.

He'd been carrying that cross for a couple of years -- his first cross he'd made after having been down on his luck in Mexico. He'd had just enough money to buy the wood and wheels for the cross. That first, wooden cross was heavy, and by the time I met him he'd gone to a new model that was made of lighter materials.

Some people thought he was crazy. Some thought it was all a scam of some sort. Some said it was an interesting sight, and many admitted that seeing Cross Carrier Chuck trudge along the open road made them think about God.

I remember reacting with both a reporter's skepticism and a feeling of inspiration as well; and no one can see inside his heart. I only know what he said -- that his job, he felt, was to carry the cross, that God would do the rest.

This man, whether in his heart he was prophet, poet or charlatan, inspired me, and he inspired many others, too.

People would call the newsroom, excited and filled with renewed passion, because they had seen this man carrying a cross along U.S. 54.

He'd ask if he could pray with passers-by who stopped; and some would offer money, a room for the night, water, food and so forth. And so, Cross Carrier Chuck carried his cross. For more than 11 years.

It had been some time since Cross Carrier Chuck had passed through this area, so I did a search on the Internet, just to see if anyone else had written about him lately.

Sadly, I learned that Cross Carrier Chuck died in August, having succumbed to a heart attack in a hotel room in Florence, S.C. He was 49.

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Lynn Wade
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