Calumet New Tech High Senior Has a Special Date to Prom: Her Great-Grandfather

May 20, 2017

Chicago Tribune

The last time James Suggs went to prom was 1969.

He remembers dressing up to take his daughter Jane to her prom at Froebel High School in Gary. Afterward, he treated her and a few friends to a post-prom dinner.

Nearly 50 years later, he had a new date with his great-granddaughter, Racyne Johnson, 18, to Calumet New Tech High School’s grand march and prom.

On Friday, he donned one of three tuxedos he owns with a white and black rimmed hat, complete with a navy-blue bow tie and pocket square.

He pulled up in his white Lincoln Town Car to take her to the prom. She was dressed to match for prom in a blue jumpsuit and cape with a rhinestone necklace and droplet earrings.

Suggs, now 87, never got a chance to go to his own high school prom, he said. An Alabama native, he married Cleo, a classmate since first grade in Alabama, in 1947. They will soon celebrate their 70th anniversary, he said.

With three brothers working in steel mills, they moved to Northwest Indiana in 1950, when Suggs got a job as a laborer at Inland Steel. He retired as an operator in 1990.

“She is all about family,” Audra Johnson said, adding that Suggs had fulfilled a grandfather role to her “since she was a baby.”

Racyne Johnson filmed a short “promposal” with a teddy bear and card.

“I thought it would be sweet to give him that moment,” she said.

That closeness extended to a large family that at one point included 7 children, 15 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren, Suggs said.

Racyne Johnson is the daughter of Lake Ridge school board President Glenn Johnson. She will attend Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., next year on a golf scholarship and plans to study criminal justice.

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