Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2008

Former newspaperman leaves great legacy

January 3, 2008

I have been reading about the many accomplishments of J.H. "Johnny" Johnston III. The one thing I remember about him was the time he came to our house in February 1956, to take a picture for the Leavenworth Times of the snowman bust of Abraham Lincoln that I had created.

At that time I had no clue as to who he was or even his name.

Many years later I discovered this when I was in the Leavenworth Library Kansas Room. They were cataloging negatives that he had donated and ran across a negative of the picture of me and the boys, and they had me verify that we were the ones in the picture. I had always admired his photos and books and was pleased to know that he took the picture.

I do remember how exacting he was when taking the picture of my boys Dave and Mike and myself. He was definitely the director because he was creating a story of a snowman that found its way into AP and United Press International wire service. Former Lansing residents sent us clippings from their papers. To name a few: the Chicago Daily News; Kinston Daily Free Press in Kinston, N.C.; Paris, Ill.; Santa Ana Daily Register.

We got a letter from Shirley Mitchell, a former Lansing High student living in England. She had read about it in the Stars and Stripes in February 1956.

One special letter came from James McDonald, who saw the picture in the Newark Evening News. He stated he was born on the Wiehe farm two miles south of Lansing and his mother was formerly Mary Aaron of Lansing.

A year later it was published in many school newsletters.

This goes to show how one story, one photograph and one person can influence so many people.

After I started writing these columns, Johnny and I would visit after our talks to the Leadership Class on several occasions at the Leavenworth Library. I learned a great deal about Leavenworth County History from him.

Johnny passed away Dec. 22. He leaves a great legacy.

Thanks, Johnny.

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