Charlie Johnson honored at SCHAS Citizenship Award Dinner

From Left: Brenda Byrd, Jeannie Allen (SCHAS board members); Charlie Johnson (2015 Citizenship Award Honoree); Phyllis Williams, Sue Barker, Betty Ogle (SCHAS board members) and Lena Howington (Sevier County SCHAS Director)

The 14th Annual Sevier Citizens Home Assistance Service Citizenship Award Dinner was help on Thursday May 7 2015 at the Holiday Inn in Pigeon Forge, TN. The Sevier Award Dinner recognizes and honors a deserving person who demonstrates his/her care for the community and its citizens. This year, the honoree was Charlie Johnson.

At 12:20 AM on the 27st day of September 1941, in the midst of an Appalachian rainstorm, Charlie R. Johnson was welcomed into this world by Smith and Stella Johnson. He was the thirteenth of the fourteen children, all born in the same bed, in the same room, in the same wood-frame house off Hunting Creek near the Wilkesboros in North Carolina. Charlie grew up with a loving family on a hillside farm where he learned about hard work, love of family and love of the Lord.
His old-maid aunt, who lived with the family, pushed him hard to get an education and to “be somebody.” At age seventeen, Charlie decided he was done “digging in the dirt” so he joined the United States Army. His life-long quest for travel, adventure, and learning began a few days after high school graduation when he boarded a Trailways Bus on his way to Charlotte, NC for induction into the Army and then on to Fort Jackson. That Trailways Bus took him out of the Carolinas for good. He never returned to Hunting Creek except for short family visits.

Charlie was trained in Cartographic mapping and aerial photography and began a career that included mapping the major airports, major rivers, and the coast line of the United States and its possessions. He worked first with the Army and then with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, the oldest and first agency of the government. In between these two jobs, he toured the US with his buddy in a 1953 Desoto, working a variety of jobs to pay his way travelling around the country.

With his security clearance he mapped the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and Tactical Air Command (TAC) bases as well as Intercontinental Missile Sites (ICBM) and atomic energy plants that were used in the defense of the United States. These projects took him to Alaska each summer and to all points between thereandtheU.S.VirginIslandsfortherestoftheyear. Somehowalongthewayhesqueezedinadegree from Tennessee Technological University (TTU) and then a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee (UT).

Toward the end of his undergrad studies at Tennessee Tech his friend in the veterans group set him up on a blind date with a little girl from Sevierville, Tennessee. She was a graduate of Tech, a Political Science student and, coincidentally, also one of fourteen children. After that first date making the decision to attend graduate school at the University of Tennessee was easy: the travel time to Sevierville from Knoxville wasn’t too far to visit what he thought was not only a pretty girl, but a pretty intelligent one at that.
After graduate school and the reluctant blessings of her father, Charlie married Glenda Fay McCarter in November 1972. With a career waiting in Washington, D.C., Charlie started planning the move. However, with a new bride and the lure of Sevier County, he enrolled in the George C. Taylor School of Law at the University of Tennessee the next June, 1973. On May 10, 1976, Charlie opened his law office at 150 Court Avenue in Sevierville, TN and he hasn’t left yet. He now concentrates his practice in the areas of Real Estate, Commercial law, Estate Planning and Estate Administration.

Three years after the law offices opened, Stefanie arrived, followed by Ashley two years later, and after two more years Alex showed up. Charlie, Glenda and the three children enjoyed life, work, and living in Sevierville, the community that gave so much to them. They were naturally involved in social, community, civic, and church activities. They wanted to give back and contribute to the community they called home. Charlie was active in the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, helped charter the Kiwanis Club, and was a member of the Sevierville Lions Club for many years.

Charlie was elected Mayor of the City of Sevierville in 1987 and served as Mayor until 1995 when he decided to step aside to spend more time with his family. He didn’t leave public service, however; he did run for Alderman and served in that capacity until 2003. During this time he served as Chairman for the Board of Water Works and Sewage Commission and on the Planning Commission. He served ex-officio on the Power Board and Recreation Commission.

During his tenure as mayor he helped establish, and served as Chairman, of the Sevier Task Force for Community Cooperation, a countywide effort to engender great cooperation between the cities and the county. He helped charter the Foothills Parkway Association in an effort to educate and advocate for the completion of the Parkway. Further, he was a member of the Foothills Land Conservancy and a member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Geography of the University of Tennessee.

As Mayor, Charlie was a strong proponent for a Sevier County Campus for Walters State Community College (WSCC) and served on its Campus Development Council to raise funds from the com- munity and local government. He served as President of the WSCC Foundation and remains as a Trustee of the Foundation. He believes that one of the greatest assets a community can offer is the opportunity for higher education for its citizens. He is a strong advocate for expansion into a four year college experience for Sevier County’s young people.

First Baptist Church of Sevierville was a large part of the Johnson Family’s lives. Glenda taught four year-olds in Sunday School for twenty-four years while serving on many committees in the church. Charlie served on various church committees, taught Sunday school and was elected as Deacon and later on the Board of Trustees. He is now a life-time deacon with the Church and currently serves as a member of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation for Tennessee.

Charlie hasn’t completely abandoned public service. He is a member of the Sevierville Commons Association, the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Water Quality Control and Oil and Gas Commission for the State of Tennessee.

Charlie, Stefanie, Charles Ashley, and Alex remain involved with the community. Charlie and Glenda passed along a strong commitment to service and the children are all active in City and County organizations. The family continues to grow with the addition of a wonderful daughter-in-law, Heather. Charlie has been blessed with two special grandchildren, Reagan Alexander and Charleston Elizabeth Johnson. Soon he will add another daughter-in-law, Sheena, and grandson, Jagger. And he is passing on his quest for travel, adventure and education to this new generation, loving every minute, and feeling extremely blessed.

SCHAS is a non-profit Sevier County based Organization. The agency provides homemaker and personal care for the elderly and persons with disabilities in our community.