For last 10 years, former Pinehurst Mayor Grady Johnson has installed flags along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive every military holiday.

“I’m a patriotic guy, I love my country,” said Johnson. “Some may think it’s corny, but there’s a camaraderie that rushes to your bloodstream… It’s a wonderful feeling,” he said. Johnson is glad he was in the military and is quite proud of today’s Armed Forces. They do what is needed, “to accomplish what was necessary.”

Johnson also spoke of the memorial services at the Church of the Nazarene. “That’s just so nice, I try to make it every year.”

Life didn’t start out easy for Johnson. “I had a bad bump in the road,” he said. “My mom died when I was 3.” They were a very poor family.

When he was 17, he joined the CC Camp, the Civilian Conservation Corps. “The gave me two brand new pairs of boots, four to five pairs of socks, five pairs of underwear, five pairs of khaki pants, a coat, cap, shirts, all brand new.”  Johnson indicated he had a stack of clothes about a foot and a half high. “I never had anything that thrilled me as much,” he said. Never could he have imagined having that many clothes at one time.

Later Johnson enlisted in the Army and was part of the field artillery. He spent two years overseas.

“I left San Francisco on Dec. 12, 1943 and came back to San Diego, Dec. 12, 1945.”

At the age of 18, he married his beautiful bride, Peggy in Orange. They lived on the family farm in Center until 1947, when Johnson moved the family to Orange. 

“If I had my choice to live anywhere I wanted, this is where I would be. We have the greatest asset of anywhere in the United States, the people. There’s just something about them,” he said.

Orange has been good to Johnson. Through the years he has prospered. Many of the buildings in Pinehurst were built by Johnson and he has owned many businesses, including the mini storage on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Johnson was married to Peggy for 63 years. They raised five children, 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Peggy passed away three years ago.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.