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Herald-Banner Saturday, March 31, 2012

THE FUTURE c o mm u n i t y & e d u c a t i o n


Joe C. Johnson

Teachers set path for Caddo Mills man By Carol Ferguson Herald-Banner Staff Joe C. Johnson might well be considered the “poster boy” for Caddo Mills. He currently lives “... 300 feet from where I was born, on land that’s been in the family for 140 years.” He says teachers have been a major influence in his life. “Miss Frances Lee and Miss Lorene Jordan were elementary school teachers in Caddo Mills. Every time there was a program Miss Lee encouraged me to participate, and Miss Jordan was such an intellectual person — soft-spoken, but a lion when it came to teaching. “Then my parents moved to Dallas, and I was miserable there,” he recalls. He wasn’t interested in his studies, and the school librarian at Sam Houston Elementary, a Miss Spruce, sensed his unhappiness. “She got me interested in books, and I tell people that in the eighth grade I could travel with the Mohicans and go up and down the Mississippi River with Tom Sawyer. That was my escape. I still think of her and her influence. “Mother and Dad were also concerned about me, so we moved back to Caddo Mills, and the ‘fog’ was lifted for me,” he said. He graduated from Caddo Mills High School at 16, in 1951. After graduation he worked for H. L. Hunt Oil Company in Dallas. “They had me driving Mr. Hunt around in downtown Dallas,“ he said. “When I decided to go to college I went for one year at East Texas State, but I was still undecided about what I wanted to do. I had no girl friend — you could say I was foot loose and fancy free — so I joined the United States Marine Corps.” From 1956-58 he served in California, Okinawa, Japan and the Philippines. “After my discharge I knew I wanted to go back to college, so I want back to ETSU and majored in biology. Again I had two great professors there who influenced me — one was the late Dr. Arthur Pullen, head of the biology department, and the other was Dr. Fred Tarpley. At that time ET had a lot of country boys and girls, and Dr. Tarpley took the rough edges off a bunch of old country boys,” he said. Graduating with honors, Johnson began teaching science at Greenville Junior High School. “I helped Ken Gibson with the junior high basketball

— and also raises tomatoes and okra. This past year when so many gardeners were having poor luck with their tomato plants, Johnson said his were doing very well. “You have to go out and shake them a little to pollinate them and talk to them,” he kids. “Shake them and talk to them.” Actually, he admits, his success is probably due more to the bags of oak leaves he collects in the fall and uses as a mulch. “I like the outdoors, and my two favorite places in Texas couldn’t be more different: the Big Bend where I hike, backpack and ride my bike, and the other is Caddo Lake. I take the kids and grandkids there twice a year and we stay three or four days.” Over the years Johnson has also been involved in a variety of civic activities. He has been a member of the Caddo Mills Courtesy photo Volunteer Fire Department, filled in for an unexpired term Joe C. Johnson is shown at one of the rest stops provided by small communities along the long-distance biking routes. on the Caddo Mills City Council, served on boards of and football teams. At first I High School in her memory. riders, you meet such great directors for FISH, the Hunt told him, ‘I’m a science major, Six years ago Johnson marpeople. They’re all so upbeat, County Committee on Aging, not a physical education major,’ ried his second wife, Beverly. enthusiastic. Hunt County Appraisal District, but he said, ‘You can handle it.’ “Some men never get one “Jerry and I went and did the Hunt County Fair and Hunt I said no. good wife, and I got two,” he 300-mile Bike Florida ride three Regional Hospital District. He “Then he approached me a said. “Beverly is a CPA and times, and then we started is also a member of the noon week later and said I’d only works in accounting at L-3. The going to Iowa for the 500-mile Rotary Club, and he is currenthave four academic classes kids and 14 grandkids love her. RAGBRAI.” ly taking a non-credit writing instead of five to teach, but I We’re a very close family. It’s The latter event was started course at Texas A&M still said no. When he came not unusual for there to be 30 at in 1973 by two men on the staff University-Commerce under Dr. back again, he said ‘I want you our house at any given time.” of the Des Moines Register. The Tarpley. to help me. You’ll only have Johnson has always been name stands for “Register’s Johnson is an avid photografour sections of science and I enthusiastic about physical Annual Great Bicycle Ride pher, he collects soda pop memwill help you, plus it’ll be a $500 exercise, and he took up longAcross Iowa,” and that’s exactly orabilia, and he still manages to a year raise.’ distance running in 1960. what it is. Riders begin on the work out four or five days a “‘Where’s the whistle?’ I “My first race was at White western edge of the state, tradi- week at the L-3 fitness center. immediately said. Rock Lake in January, and it tionally dipping the rear wheel “I’ve had people ask me why “We had very successful was 32 degrees and the wind of their bikes in the Missouri I exercise so much,” he said. “It teams, but it was due more to was whipping — cold, cold, River, and finish on the eastern may not allow me to live any Ken Gibson than to me.” cold. I said to myself, ‘What in side, dipping their front wheel longer, but it sure does feel Johnson and his wife, Jean the world am I doing here?’ It in the Mississippi River. good while you’re living.” Anne, were the parents of three was a 5K race and when I won Average speed is 15 to 18 mph, natural children and also adopt- second place in my age group I and riders begin at daybreak ed three minority youngsters, was ruined,” he said laughing. and are through for the day by two of whom were from El “In my 60s I continued in all the 11 o’clock. They average 70 Salvador. All six now have colmajor races in my age group in miles per day. Small towns lege degrees. “I needed more northeast Texas and won along the route get in the spirit money, so after three years I them.” of things by making sleeping quit teaching and went into the One day when he was runspace and meals available, he construction business with my ning, he said he could sense explained. father-in-law, J.W. Farr, and that someone or something was “For two years we were the was in that for 26 years.” coming up behind him. “It was only ones from this area who Eventually he went to work Mr. Rentfrow, the undertaker. went, but now there are about in the facilities department at “‘James, what are you doing?’ 10 or 12 riders,” he said. “I have E-Systems in supervision, and I asked him. ridden in it five times in the last retired after 10 years from “‘Joe,’ he said in jest, ‘busiseven years.” Raytheon (now L-3 ness is slow and I thought He has also ridden in the Communications). maybe you’d get run over.’ 100-mile Hotter ‘n’ Hell event in In 1997 his wife died in an “As I neared 70, there was no Wichita Falls. Courtesy photo automobile accident in one else to run with in Caddo “I’ve been retired for 12 Rockwall. The library in Lee Mills, so I got into bike riding. years, but I have to have a proj- Joe C. Johnson takes time out to catch his Elementary School, Caddo There are a lot of riders around ect,” he said. “I enjoy gardening breath during the 300-mile Bike Florida Mills, has been named after Greenville — Jerry Grady, Bill and yard work — anything to ride. The Caddo Mills native enjoys physiher, and the family has given Rutherford, Bob Mudie. I joined do with horticulture.” He has cal exercise, and in addition to biking, he more than $80,000 in scholarup with them for companionplanted and cares for 30 trees ships to seniors at Caddo Mills ship. With runners and bike — peach, pear, pecan and plum likes gardening, hiking and backpacking.


Jackie Ray

Mapping out the future: Woman has direction as 911 coordinator By Brad Kellar Herald-Banner Staff Never let it be said that Jackie Ray doesn’t know where she’s going. She also knows exactly where she’s been. As Hunt County’s 911 coordinator, it is Ray’s job to put an address on every home, business and other structure on every road in the county. It is a duty she has performed for almost eight years, the past seven of which as 911 Coordinator. “I oversee the cities, too,” Ray said. “I work with the North Central Texas Council of Governments and they oversee everything we do.” The addresses are included on maps of the county and are determined as Ray drives the

address, based on the distance from one driveway to another on a county road. “For every 100 feet, it is 10 digits,” Ray said. Any road that has two structures or more, even if it is someone’s extra long driveway, must also carry a specific name which can be added to the system. “We also have to make sure the addresses and phone numbers match up,” Ray said, noting the maps she creates are used to dispatch emergency Brad Kellar / Herald-Banner vehicles to a location when a call comes through. Jackie Ray knows where all the houses, businesses and other structures are located in “The sheriff’s office has a copy of my maps,” Ray said. Hunt County, as she serves as the county’s 911 coordinator. “Each fire department also has roads and notes the coordinates “Then I come back and down- copies of my map.” of the structures and driveways load it on my map,” Ray said. The maps are available at the leading to the structures, on Ray uses a fairly simple forcounty’s web site, www.hunther GPS system. mula for determining an, under the listing for

“911 addressing.” As for what she would like to see in the future, Ray is hoping everyone in the county learns to abide by the regulations for the posting of designated address numbers. “People aren’t posting their addresses,” Ray said, noting it can make it more difficult for an emergency responder to find a location. “The numbers need to be three inches tall and visible from the road, either on the house itself or by the driveway,” Ray said. Letter designations as part of the number address can also cause problems, as Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems have trouble reading them. “They can’t be 301-A, it has to be Suite 1, Suite 2, or like that,” Ray said.