HOUSTON – The man who sold candy outside the Harris County Criminal Courthouse for more than 10 years has died.
Defense attorney Vivian King posted to Facebook that Rick Johnson succumbed to colon cancer early Thursday morning.
"Our "Candy Man" lost his battle with cancer this morning at 2:38 a.m. with two family members by his side," the post read.
King is among a group of lawyers and judges who called Johnson friend.
Johnson sold M&Ms and other items outside the steps of the busy downtown Houston building. While some said he sold candy, attorney Chris Tritico said he sold "smiles and 30 seconds of happiness outside of the place that dispenses heartache every day."
Attorney Jennifer "J.L." Carpenter also took to Facebook saying: "A man who taught us all a little about how to live life on life's terms.Thank you, Vivian R. King, for all you and many others did to shower Rick with love in his final days."
Johnson showed up for high-profile judges and lawyers when they least expected it. He attended funeral services for defense attorney Kent Schaffer's daughter, who died unexpectedly two years ago.
"People I'd been friends with for years weren't there that day, because they had brunch plans or a golf game, and here's this guy who had spent hours to get five or six miles on his cane to be there on the front row for me and for my daughter," Schaffer said.
When Johnson disappeared this summer from his usual courthouse spot attorneys called police and hired a private investigator. King was the one who tracked him down.
"I called his family members, and they said he was in the hospital, fighting colon cancer," she said.
King and others held a fundraiser on Nov. 30 to help with Johnson's bills and to let him know he wasn't alone.
Johnson said he was overwhelmed by the support.
"You got to give to get. They've been a blessing to me," he said.
A GoFundMe account that was set up to help with Johnson's full-time home health care has raised more than $30,000.
Services for Johnson will be held at noon on Dec. 16 at St. John's United Methodist Church at 2019 Crawford St. in Houston, King posted to her Facebook page.