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Fostoria community gives veteran, cancer survivor surprise birthday party

Clancy Johnson is well known in the Fostoria community. Friday, a celebration was held to mark his 85th birthday.

FOSTORIA, Ohio — Clancy Johnson is a U.S. Army veteran and cancer survivor who has lived in Fostoria without stable housing for decades. But, the townspeople said it's by choice, and they love him all the same.

Johnson celebrated his 85th birthday on Friday with a large gathering at the city's municipal building.

Beth Mosley has known Johnson for years. She said he would walk Mosley from her job to her car at night. She organized the surprise event on Facebook in less than 48 hours.

"Clancy is one of a kind," Mosley said. "He will give you the shirt off of his back and he will give the last dollar in his pocket, type of person. He'll do anything for you, and will never ask for anything ever in return. It's just time that we celebrate him."

Johnson will offer help to some of the local businesses. In return, businesses commemorated the birthday. Ice cream shop Mason's Whippy Dip offered Johnson a free sundae.

"All the businesses in town pretty much look out for him and help him out," friend Kathy McClung said. "They'll offer him free drinks, and he does a lot of stuff for the businesses."

The downtown area marked the occasion with art on the storefront windows, partly the work of artist Avalyn Stout.

"I think it's amazing how it just started with one little thing and became this big," Stout said. "I didn't even think it'd get this big. I wasn't even sure if he was going to show up."

But no matter where he is, the townspeople said Johnson has always been a joy to others.

"This is my turn to give back to him finally," Mosley said. 

WTOL 11 asked Johnson what he thought of the celebration. As a man of few words, Johnson said he was happy that the town came together to honor him.

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