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Good Shepherd doctor recognized for service

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Dr. Charles Johnson, medical director at the Good Shepherd Clinic, is presented a proclamation by Morrow Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Dr. Charles Johnson, medical director at the Good Shepherd Clinic, is presented a proclamation by Morrow Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke.

Good Shepherd Clinic’s medical director, Dr. Charles Johnson, turned the word “whereas” into a running joke Monday night after he received a proclamation, in honor of his lifetime of work, from Morrow Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke.

The word showed up eight times in the lengthy proclamation.

Each “whereas” preceded some event in his life, including: his birth in 1925; his enlistment in the U.S. Navy and service during World War II; his attending the University of Georgia; his marriage to his wife, Rita; his operating a private practice in Forest Park for 47 years; his service at the Morrow-based Good Shepherd Clinic, and his receiving the Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s 2012 Joseph D. Green Community Service Award.

“I didn’t know there were so many whereases,” the 86-year-old Johnson quipped as he received the proclamation from Burke.

The mayor quickly responded, “Well, you shouldn’t have done so many things, whereas we are now here to give you a proclamation.”

A few minutes later, one of Johnson’s patients, Riverdale resident Michelle Henderson, yelled out, “Whereas, if you weren’t here, I’d be dead,” to him.

Although the proclamation recited many of Johnson’s accomplishments from his life, it was mainly given to him so the city could recognize him as a Joseph D. Green Community Service Award recipient. The doctor received the award on May 2, in Atlanta. He was nominated for the award by the Good Shepherd Clinic’s Board of Directors Chairman, Jim Phillips, and the Clinic’s Administrator, Lisa Page.

“This award honors local heroes for their outstanding work and dedication to improving the health of all Georgians through compassionate and unselfish volunteer service,” Healthcare Georgia Foundation President Gary D. Nelson wrote in a Feb. 13 letter to Johnson, to announce the recognition.

Phillips said Johnson came to the clinic in 2002, after retiring from private practice. He called the doctor a model for all other medical professionals to follow, because “he brings a level of respect and caring that you don’t find every day anymore. He treats everyone as if they were his kids.”

The clinic’s board chairman also said Johnson, who is a volunteer just like all of the other members of the Good Shepherd Clinic’s staff, has given the clinic “stability” because he has always come in two times per week for the last eight years.

“He’s someone we could count on to be here when the doors opened,” Phillips said.

Henderson said Phillips does get on her sometimes, if she doesn’t follow her strict meal plan for her diabetes, but she added it is always in a friendly way. “I love Dr. Johnson,” she said. “He’s the nicest person. His momma would be so proud of him, if she was alive. She raised him right.”

While Good Shepherd Clinic staff, patients and community members feted Johnson this week, he remained humble.

“I really didn’t do anything special, like you all think I did,” the doctor told the crowd. “I just hung in there.”