The Palmetto Bay Village Council voted 5-0 at its Dec. 9 meeting to place on the agenda of the January meeting a resolution put forth by Councilmember Patrick Fiore to posthumously honor resident George F. Johnson by co-designating a village roadway with his name.
A section of SW 144th Terrace between 68th Court and 68th Avenue would be named “George Johnson Way.” Johnson, a long time resident, was 65 when he passed away on May 17. A petition signed by 13 of Johnson’s neighbors was brought to Fiore by resident Don Noe before the December meeting.
“I didn’t know Mr. Johnson,” Fiore said in a Dec. 13 interview. “But based on what Don told me and the things that I read, and all the signatures of the people in the neighborhood, he was extremely instrumental in working with the city for several years to get the drainage installed down there, and now the street doesn’t flood anymore.
“Everybody voted for it and it’s coming up on Jan. 6 for a final resolution to co-designate the street ‘George Johnson Way,’ and hopefully within a month or so after that we’ll have the sign and do a little ceremony with the family and the neighbors.”
Johnson served in the United States Coast Guard for 20 years and rose to the position of Deputy Commander Coast Guard Group Miami in 1985, retiring in 1990. He worked as an executive with two airlines in Miami and was treasurer of the International Air Cargo Association. He served as the church administrator at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church and later as the chief financial officer at Westminster Christian School. But his neighbors best remember him as a great neighbor and for his efforts after Hurricane Katrina caused flooding in their area.
“Every neighborhood has one individual who is the ‘go to’ guy and George was that person,” Noe said. “He would check on everybody when a hurricane threatened to see if they needed help with shutters or supplies. After Katrina he led the charge in assisting two of the homeowners on his street whose homes were flooded. He spent days ripping out carpet, moving furniture and drying out walls.”
Noe said that Johnson organized neighborhood get-togethers on many Friday nights by hosting a gathering in his driveway. “Whenever we would see the pink flamingo displayed in his lawn, it meant that neighbors were to bring a lawn chair and a beverage to sit under the stars and talk. In a big suburban community it was a great way to make it feel like a small town by getting to know and talk with your neighbors,” Noe added.
“If I needed any tool, George had it. If I needed a helping hand, George was there. You really didn’t have to ask; it was just his way. Theproject to improve drainage was just one example of George’s caring for people and his efforts to make our little neighborhood a better place.”
At the Dec. 9 meeting, Village Mayor Shelley Stanczyk spoke positively about the idea of honoring George Johnson.
“Over the years I’ve supported and brought forward independently a number of co-designations, and I know that some people are not fans of that,” Mayor Stanczyk said. “But I think that co-designations have a way of kind of humanizing our village. We go through and we see names on streets that commemorate the people of our village. We’ve done at least three in the last couple of years that I recall.”
The road is not currently designated for anyone. A final vote approving the resolution is expected in January.