Social Work, Nursing Benefit

A pair of $25,000 4-year scholarships will promote the well-being of the people of East Tennessee

True to its mission of improving the quality of life in the communities it serves—the Tennessee counties of Bradley, Hamilton, Loudon, Marion, Meigs, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie—supporting programs that improve the education, health, or the general welfare of the citizens in those communities, the George R. Johnson Family Foundation in Cleveland, Tenn., has endowed two $25,000 scholarships to be awarded annually in the colleges of Social Work and Nursing.

The Johnson Family Foundation was established in 2000 by the late George R. Johnson, whose company owned and operated Hardee’s restaurants in East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.

Johnson grew up in Calhoun, Tenn., and attended Tennessee Wesleyan College in the academic year 1949–50 until the Korean War broke out and he joined the Navy. When he was honorably discharged from military service, he came back to East Tennessee to attend UT Knoxville, graduating in 1957 with a B.S. in industrial management. Johnson worked first for Firestone Rubber Company and then Magic Chef Inc. He went on to purchase a franchise agreement from Hardee’s for East Tennessee and established his first fast-food restaurant in Athens in 1966 and one in Cleveland soon after.

Johnson’s daughter, Janice Johnson Wilson, executive director of the George R. Johnson Family Foundation, says that her father was grateful to all of the people who supported his Hardee’s restaurants over the years. The foundation was his way of returning the favor to these small communities that had helped him prosper.

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