You may have seen him riding his bike all over Sand Mountain for decades, but maybe didn’t know his name.
Robert Lyebett “Bicycle Bobby” Johnson, of Albertville, has passed away.
A staunch supporter of local law enforcement and area football teams, Johnson reportedly died Monday after a short battle with cancer.
He was often seen riding his bicycle around Albertville for decades.
“When he was healthy enough, he rode that bicycle everywhere,” said Albertville Police Chief Jamie Smith.
“He was always seen around town. He was a local icon.”
He supported law enforcement through his friendliness and prayer.
“I know Major (John) Amos kept up with him a lot,” Smith said. “About a year and a half ago, John had to have his gallbladder out.
“He mows lawns on the side and mowed the yard next door to Bicycle Bobby’s house. John had gotten a substitute worker to handle his yards while he was recovering.
“When Bobby saw the substitute worker, he asked about John. When he found out about John having surgery, I think we ended up having the whole shift at Bobby’s house so they could be in prayer in the front yard for John’s recovery.”
Boaz Assistant Chief Walter “Little John” Colbert said he had known Johnson for years.
“It’s a sad day,” Colbert said. “We all will miss him.”
Albertville High School athletic programs will miss Johnson’s presence.
“He was a huge supporter of Albertville football and athletics for as long as I remember,” said former Albertville High School Principal Paul McAbee.
“He used to ride bike to all area ballgames. I remember one day he rode his bike all the way to Murphy Stadium in Gadsden to watch Albertville play.
“Anything school related or law enforcement related, he was a big supporter of.”
Colbert said he remembers how Johnson would ride his bike down into Guntersville to watch the first half of the football game.
“He’d leave at halftime so he could ride back up the mountain and be home in time to be the first to call in to the scoreboard after-game show on the radio,” Colbert said.
The late Marshall County Sheriff Mac Holcomb took Johnson under his wing, going so far as to issue him a deputy’s uniform.
“I think his dream – whether in this life or another – was to be a police officer,” said Albertville Police Dispatcher Wendy Ball.
Ball knew Johnson since she was a teenager. He was a fixture at Albertville High School ballgames and on the streets of Albertville.
“He was one of our regular callers,” Ball said. “He would call in to report things he saw. If his cable went out, he’d call us. But he also would call to keep us up on the score of the (AHS) ballgame. He would check on the officers. If he saw something on the news about an officer getting injured or something, he’d call to let us know he’d be their backup.
“He was a special man.”
Ball said as a dispatcher, she tried to make time to talk to him if possible.
“For some people, he wasn’t important and he would get on their nerves,” she said.
“But I always tried to talk to him. If I didn’t hear from him for a few days, I got worried.”
Delane Irvin, a former Marshall County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher, said she remembers Johnson fondly.
“You could almost bet a paycheck that (Bobby) would call once a night,” she said. “He was always checking to make sure we were having a good night and always had a quick story to tell.”
One of her fondest memories of Johnson was on his birthday about six years ago. Johnson often said he had never “been celebrated” on his birthday and he wanted someone to use Silly String on him.
“Officer Tyler May and Capt. Chase Colquitt went out to his house at his request and shot him with Silly String. ( Bobby) laughed and he cried. It meant so much to him.
“It was something so simple, something so many would have taken for granted, but it meant the world to him. I’ll never forget it.”
McAbee said he was proud of Johnson for living the life he wanted to.
“Bobby got to do what he wanted to do. He lived by himself. He answered to no one but himself,” McAbee said.
“One of the things I’m so proud of is that he never had to spend time in any type of a group home setting. He lived his life like he wanted.”
A Graveside Service will be held for Johnson July 22, at 10 a.m. at Marshall Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Jason Windsor will officiate. Pallbearers will be friends. He was preceded in death by his mother, Gartrell Johnson; and father, RB Johnson. He is survived by his, son, Randy Lee Johnson; sisters, Martha Kelly (Stevie Justice), and Annie Sue Eubanks; special caregiver, John Schwartz; and special friends, Jan Patterson and Gary Dean.
Albertville Funeral Home Downtown handled arrangements.
McAbee said people who knew Johnson were lucky.
“Someone said to me once that everyone needed to have a little Bicycle Bobby in their lives,” he said. “It would really put everything in perspective.”