Death and state funeral of Sheldon Johnson (Johnsonverse)
On September 22, 2019, Sheldon Johnson, the former Johnson Industries CEO from 1967 to 1981 and longtime Senator of California since 1992, passed away of congestive heart failure. In his honor, the Johnson family announced
During his final hours, Johnson sat on a bench in his house with his family. When he began feeling pain in his cheat, he was taken to a hospital.
Despite his past entanglements with the company, United States President Donald Trump declared that September 25 would be a national day of mourning, and that all flags would be at half-staff until the end of the month. Johnson received a state funeral from the state of California, which involved a funeral train from San Jose to Sacramento on the Northwest Corridor, then back to San Jose via Altamont Pass after lying in state in the state capitol building; Continental Rail #1472, the locomotive that starred in various Johnson productions, most notably the Tales from the Rails television series and also pulled the funeral trains for Dwight D. Eisenhower and George H. W. Bush (in the latter case, Union Pacific #4141 was to lead the train, but one of Bush's dying wishes was for the locomotive from one of his favorite shows to power the train), powered the train without any diesel helpers (thanks to advancements in steam locomotive technology developed by Continental Rail); Dick Van Dyke was expected to be at the throttle between Stockton and Livermore, but he couldn't make it out, and traffic over Altamont Pass was heavy and couldn't be cleared in time, so the train was forwarded to Fresno, and Tim Johnson's best friend Andy Helmsburgh, himself an engineer-in-training for Continental Rail, was drafted to take the throttle after his own grandfather's funeral in Fresno, taking the train all the way home via Pacheco Pass.
Passengers who were on the train, aside from Tim himself, included Chloe Johnson, Belle Armstrong, Sheldon Johnson Jr., Tammy Jo Johnson, Jenny Smith, Ricky, Bella, and Armando Johnson, Tom Stephenson, the surviving cast members of Tales from the Rails, Elk Cabin, and The Reapers, Phil Stacker and his family, Andy's girlfriend Suki Honda, who rode in the cab with him when he took the throttle, and fellow California senator Kamala Harris.
Shortly after his death, all Johnson-owned networks (except Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Freeform, and The NASCAR Network) ceased all programming as longtime WBC news anchor Tom Stephenson delivered the news to a stunned nation; WBC, all ESPN networks, TNN, Comedy Central, WBC News Network, Game Show Network, and A&E simulcast all coverage of Johnson's funeral services, in tandem with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, and BBC America.
Due to his death, Jerry Brown, the former Governor of California between 1975 and 1983, was selected as the interim Senator until the 2020 election.