Frank Johnson grew up in the small town of Ansted, West Virginia which is about eight miles from the New River Gorge Bridge. He comes from a family dedicated to serving their nation and communities. His dad, Jack E. Johnson, was a Seabee in the U. S. Navy and served in the South Pacific during World War II. His brother, Jack Johnson, served 30 years in the U. S. Air Force, retiring as a Colonel. Frank served twenty-four years in the U. S. Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. During his years in the Army, he worked in Air Defense Artillery, including the development of the Chaparral and Patriot missile programs. He served three overseas tours in Vietnam, Korea and Germany. He spent his final four years in the 2nd Army’s Inspector General’s Office at Fort Gillem, inspecting National Guard and Reserve units throughout the southeastern United States. Upon retirement from the Army, he spent ten years with the State of Georgia.
Following his second retirement, Frank began seriously pursuing his passion for gardening by taking the Master Gardener course, volunteering many hours at the State Botanical Garden, the UGA Horticulture Farm, Plant-a-Row for the Hungry gardens, and other projects. Frank will quickly tell you that he became a member of the Watkinsville Garden Club a few months after his wife, Cheryl, joined the club. Her vivid descriptions of the fabulous covered dish luncheons sold him on becoming a member. After becoming a member of the Watkinsville Garden Club in 2005, he quickly became involved with many of the club’s projects. Frank has served as Hospitality Co-Chair, on the Garden Therapy Committee, the Elder Mill Bridge Garden Committee, and has assisted with plant sales and many other garden club activities. In February 2016, Frank served as co-chair of the 75th Anniversary Celebration held at the State Garden Club Headquarters.
In 2018, Dr. Michael Dirr and his wife, Bonnie, presented a program for a WGC meeting. Dr. Dirr graciously volunteered to help the club grow hydrangeas to raise money for the club’s projects. Frank stepped up to lead the garden club’s work on the Hydrangea Project. With the help of a group of volunteers from the club, cuttings were taken of fifteen cultivars of hydrangeas. Approximately 300 hydrangeas were potted and grown to maturity under the tutelage of Dr. Dirr. Following a publicity blitz throughout the state, a large crowd gathered early on the day of the sale in May of 2019 to purchase the lush plants. Within 40 minutes, they were sold!
Using the proceeds of the sale of the hydrangeas, Watkinsville Garden Club became the first garden club in the nation to purchase and install both a Blue Star Marker and Gold Star Marker at the same time. Frank chaired the committee which worked with Oconee County to install the markers at the courthouse and tirelessly worked to develop a memorable dedication ceremony. On March 30, 2021, the dedication was held with about 75-100 in attendance, including three Gold Star Families.
Frank is looking forward to many more adventures with the Watkinsville Garden Club and the delicious covered dish luncheons.