Walter Johnson, long time New Albany leader, died today at age 92

NE:Miss.News Former New Albany MS Mayor Walter Johnson
Former New Albany Mayor, Walter Johnson

 

Walter Johnson, who served multiple terms as mayor of New Albany, died today at age 92.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi and an outstanding athlete, he played basketball under Ole Miss Coach Country Graham.

Johnson built and operated a successful automotive business in New Albany for many decades.

He served on the New Albany city board as Alderman-at-Large. He then served three terms as mayor.

A man of vision, wit and courage, Walter Johnson was a natural leader. A striking looking man and a sharp dresser, Johnson, like the late actor Paul Newman, seemed to get better looking as he aged.

He was honored as the UCDA’s Citizen of the Year six years ago, April 2016.

Important accomplishments during his many years of public service included establishing the Union County Heritage Museum and restoration of the Cine Theatre as the Magnolia Civic Center.

In collaboration with Katherine Dye and others, Johnson drove the acquisition of land and development of New Albany’s Park-Along-the-River.

NEMiss.News Zack Stewart and Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson, with Zack Stewart, March 9, 2017.

Perhaps his crowning achievement was New Albany’s Sports Complex, now known as the BNA Sportsplex.

His longtime friend and neighbor Jim Owen, who served five terms as Alderman-at-Large after Johnson gave up that board seat to run for mayor, recalled that, “Walter almost single-handedly built the Sportsplex.

“He raised most of the money and kept everybody working night and day until it was finished and dedicated in June of 1993.”

Walter Johnson was a native of Tippah County. Ripley Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, which are incomplete at this time. NEMiss.News will publish his obituary when it is available, probably sometime tomorrow.

This reporter took the photo of Walter Johnson at the top of this article in 2007 and the one of him chatting with his friend, five-time Transportation Commissioner Zack Stewart, the morning of March 9, 2017. — JWS

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