Joe Johnson, 1930-2022

Oct 1, 2022

Joe A. Johnson, the first publisher of the Vian Tenkiller News, died June 7, 2022. He was 91.

Johnson was born November 2, 1930, in Spiro. He attended the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a degree in journalism. While at OU, he married his high school sweetheart, Martha Ellen Gentry, and became a father to twins.

The Johnsons moved to Heavener in 1950, where Joe became a partner with his brother, Jack, in the Heavener Ledger. The newspaper prospered for the next two decades. Joe was also co-owner of the Waldron News and Vian Tenkiller News.

Johnston served in the Oklahoma legislature for 14 years as both a representative and then a senator. After leaving the Senate, he went to work in the Department of Corrections, guiding inmates by leading a class called New Directions, where he encouraged inmates in their transition to becoming productive citizens.
Johnson did all this while being publisher of the Vian Tenkiller News, visiting the inmates during the day and then coming back to Vian on Tuesday night to finish the newspaper for press.

Joe and Martha enjoyed 41 years of marriage until her death in 1991. He then married Peggy Sue Huie on Jan. 1, 1993.

Johnson is survived by four children, four stepchildren and their families. His children include Joe Johnson of Seattle; Ann Johnson Mead of Purcell; Lee Johnson Lewallen of El Dorado, Kansas; and Bill Johnson of McCurtain. His stepchildren are Cindy Huie Miller of Oklahoma City; Bob “Tooter” Huie of Hontubby; Mark Huie of Zoe; and Cody Huie of Heavener.

His family also includes many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.