"Doc" Johnson memorialized with scholarship

Thursday, June 14, 2012
On hand for the announcement of the PHS Class of 1962--Donald R. "Doc" Johnson scholarship were, from left: Paula O. Blackwell, Jake Haywood, Raye Linn Haywood, Barry Johnson and Jerry Morgan.

Members of the Piggott High School class of 1962 held their 50th reunion Memorial Day weekend at the Sugar Creek Country Club. During the special gathering class members agreed to fund a scholarship for a graduating senior at Piggott High School in the name of former agriculture teacher Donald R. "Doc" Johnson. Last week the scholarship effort was announced by two members of the class, Paula O. Blackwell and Jerry Morgan. Joining in the announcement were Johnson's son Barry, his daughter Raye Linn Haywood and her son Jake.

"The theme of this year's reunion was "Come back, look back and give back," noted Morgan. "And the class members decided that it would be a great idea to honor Donald Johnson with a scholarship in his name." Morgan added that funds for the scholarship were collected at the reunion, and indicated that a number of former students had also expressed an interest in helping. "We're still working out the details, but plan to give the first scholarship out to a member of the PHS class of 2013," Blackwell added. "We will be giving it to a graduating senior at Piggott High that plans to seek an education in some field of agriculture."

Finalists for the scholarship are to be nominated by the staff at Piggott High School, although the final decision will be in the hands of Johnson's family. "Originally we discussed limiting the scholarship to either ASU or the U of A, but Dad wouldn't choose one over the other," Barry Johnson noted. "We felt there should be no restriction on which school the recipient attended, and we didn't want anyone left out because of where they chose to further their education."

"Doc" Johnson was a graduate of Piggott High School and earned his Bachelor Degree from the University of Arkansas in 1952. He then went on to attend Arkansas State University, where he later earned his Masters Degree. After working three years for the Craighead County Extension office in the area of farm management, he accepted the job as agriculture instructor at Piggott High in July 1955.

After serving 31 years at PHS he announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the 1986 school year. In recognition, April 13, 1986, was proclaimed "Donald Johnson Appreciation Day" in Piggott by Mayor George Cook.

Members of the class are currently accepting donations toward the effort, and have set up a special account at Piggott State Bank for those wanting to be involved. "We know that Mr. Johnson had a big impact on a lot of students in his career, and many of them have come forward and wanted to donate toward the scholarship," Blackwell noted. "We feel that it is a great opportunity for those students impacted by "Doc" Johnson to give something back," Morgan added.

Donations toward the scholarship fund may be deposited in account number 2111462 at Piggott State Bank.

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