My name is LeAnn Westley (Johnson) and I am the daughter of Anthony “Tony” Johnson, sometimes known by strangers as the “man who jumped off Hotel Clovis.”
I would like to express my feelings about the column in Wednesday’s newspaper by Don McAlavy headlined “Hotel Clovis holds story of one tragic life.”
When my father died, I was 7 years old. I am now 24. The article hurt my grandparents and other family members because they unexpectedly relived painful memories about my father’s death.
I feel McAlavy should have informed my grandparents prior to writing this article out of respect for their feelings. I also feel a major part of the story was missing and there were discrepancies in the article.
For example, my father’s birthday was Sept. 22, not the date printed in the column.
The article also stated my father received a blow to his head in a mining accident. The truth is he was hit in the head with a board during a fight with another man at the mines in Grants.
The unattended wound/injury led to a tumor, which then led to schizophrenia. In the article it was referred as a “mental disability.” I feel that phrase minimizes the real diagnosis.
A lot of people don’t realize what schizophrenia is and the effect it has on people without proper medication. Growing up I was teased about his illness, and reminded of his death just by looking at the building. I am still offended when people use the word schizophrenia jokingly, such as when they say “you’re schizo.”
In closing, what matters is how my family and my father’s close friends remembered him and appreciated his life.
I just wanted to set the record straight.
It may have been just a small article for the newspaper to publish, but try to imagine what it was like for our family to read the article unexpectedly and relive those painful events.
The last sentence in McAlavy’s column read: “May he rest in peace.”
Now may my grandparents and family live in peace, with good memories of my father’s life.
LeAnn Westley (Johnson) is a resident of Lancaster, Calif.