Home Waynesboro City Council to honor civic activist Kathy Johnson

Waynesboro City Council to honor civic activist Kathy Johnson

Rebecca Barnabi

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Kathy Johnson
Kathy Johnson. Submitted photo.

WAYNESBORO — In 2005, Kathy Johnson came to live in Afton and worked in the Waynesboro area.

She grew up visiting her family’s farm in Afton and began taking care of the farm in 2005. Eventually, she sold the farm and moved to Waynesboro.

On Monday, March 14, Waynesboro City Council will honor Johnson “for her charitable activities and humanitarian efforts to the city of Waynesboro” as she makes plans to move to Texas.

“It’s mixed emotions,” Johnson said.

Johnson suffered a stroke more than a year ago and then hurt her arm in a fall. She is moving to Texas to be close to family.

“Well, I think it’s probably overrated,” Johnson said of the city’s honoring her. She said the River City has a lot of other community members who have brought more people to the city and more so deserve to be honored. “But, I’m very honored by the fact that they are recognizing me. That’s very kind of them.”

Johnson has lived an interesting life, including serving for the U.S. military in intelligence. Because the work she did was classified, she is not able to share much information about her military service. She was 29 when she joined the National Reserves.

“I was a weekend warrior except when I had active duty in the summer,” Johnson said of her six years of military service.

She was living in Texas, and when she traveled to Washington, D.C. for active duty she would travel through Afton and stop to visit her grandmother and uncle on the family farm.

“I really enjoyed [military service],” Johnson said.

She said she had strong feelings about serving in the military because most countries require youth to serve at some time. She has always believed that everyone should serve, especially before attending college.

Johnson will live near one of her daughters in Trinidad, Texas, southwest of Dallas, when she leaves the River City. Another daughter lives in Plano, Texas, a son in Austin, and a granddaughter and great-granddaughter are also in Texas.

She moved to Waynesboro more than six years ago and stayed involved with various community organizations, including the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club of Waynesboro, the Waynesboro Public Library, the Boys & Girls Club and downtown merchants.

“I have enjoyed working with the downtown merchants, in particularly, but [also] all of the artisans in the area,” Johnson said.

She said she will most miss the people in the Valley and her church, Grace Evangelical Lutheran.

“There’s just a lot of people I’ve met over the years,” Johnson said.

She also met a lot of people through her dinner mystery shows which she wrote and organized herself. Johnson was a chamber ambassador when Linda Hershey was chamber president, and she arranged mystery shows for chamber events.

“I’m writing another one for them which will be done this summer,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who will turn 81 in May, plans to return to visit the River City.

“I expect good things from the city of Waynesboro as the city continues to grow,” Johnson said. She mentioned a Waynesboro branch of the Virginia Museum of National History and the Blue Ridge Children’s Museum opening, as well as the completion of Sunset Park. “It’s going to be amazing to see the change in the city.”

Johnson said she will be able to see high school, college and church friends more when she moves back to Texas. First, she needs to sell her house in Waynesboro, but she hopes to be able to move to Texas in May.

“I have no complaints. God’s been very good to me.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.