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Graham: Newton County community has lost a great one
Horace J. Johnson Jr.
Horace J. Johnson Jr., a Newton County native, was appointed as a Superior Court judge in 2002. He died Wednesday morning, July 1, 2020. - photo by Special to The News

The community has lost a good friend, husband, father and jurist.

More importantly, it has lost a really good man.

I wish I had just a little more time with Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson. I, unfortunately, was late to the Judge Johnson train, only getting to meet him for the first time a few months after purchasing The Covington News in September 2017.

Judge Johnson was the president of the Kiwanis Club of Covington at the time, and he invited me to be the guest speaker at one of the club’s meetings to share my vision for The Covington News moving forward.

That invitation and subsequent speaking engagement led to a valued friendship with one of the finest men I have ever known.

Incredibly witty, charming and thoughtful, Judge Johnson was always the biggest personality in the room. He didn’t try to be. He just was. It came naturally to him.

Whether you have been with him one-on-one, in front of him when he was sitting on the bench or part of a function he was involved in, you know exactly what I mean.

He cared deeply for the community, and there have been many a time he reached out to me about issues of importance he believed The Covington News should be covering in order to better the community overall.

Sometimes, frankly, that meant the paper itself being better.

In fact, the last communication I had with Judge Johnson was an email he recently sent in which he expressed disappointment at the lack of coverage and comment The Covington News had published regarding the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests that swept across the country in a movement for social justice.

He noted a column I had written for The Walton Tribune which included a Covington police officer in it, and wondered how in the world that didn’t make it into the newspaper in Covington.

You know what? As usual, he was absolutely right.

We adjusted what we were doing moving forward, making sure coverage and commentary appropriate for both papers appeared in both papers, and the newspaper is better for it. 

That’s one of the things I admired most about Judge Johnson. He had the uncanny ability to make you not want to disappoint him, and whether you realized it or not, you were better for it. 

The community is going to miss Judge Johnson, and so am I.

He was a good man.

Nah, he was a great one.

Patrick Graham is the owner of The Covington News. He can be reached at pgraham@covnews.com