The Wide Angle: Johnsons are great people

Published 6:30 am Saturday, April 10, 2021

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When Holly Johnson gave me the news not long ago that she would be stepping down as executive director of the Hormel Historic Home, I didn’t believe her.

I mean, why would I? She’s only gone out of her way to help me over the years she has served as director, shown a ridiculous amount of patience at what only could be seen as shenanigans on my part and generally been a great partner to the Austin Daily Herald.

So yeah, I was skeptical, but as time went on and she gave me more signs as to her plans — like, “we’re going to hire a replacement” — I had to accept the reality that Holly was indeed leaving the Hormel Historic Home.

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It should be said first and foremost that only the best people have the last name Johnson and if you disagree with this assessment, you’re clearly wrong. You already have two marvelous examples in this column alone — Holly and the debonaire and charming author himself.

YES, I wrote this! What kind of hack do you think I am?

Don’t answer that.

I can of course speak for my parents as well who are, by all accounts, excellent people, followed by of course grandparents, uncles and cousins. I should imagine Holly shares many of the same traits.

When I responded to Holly’s initial email letting me know she was stepping down, I asked her to sit down for an interview and a story, and while she gracefully turned the offer down, I’m writing about her anyway because I’m a stinker.

In all seriousness, I can’t speak highly enough of working with Holly over the years. From the beginning of my time in Austin that goes back to 2004, I have worked closely with the HHH and enjoyed good working relationships with first Tracy Plunkett and then Laura Helle (who it should be said still copes with my shenanigans as only a professional can).

Of course, Holly followed suit and from day one understood the continuing importance of the HHH in Austin, both as a social hub and as a historical organization.

Holly and her staff, all of whom are top notch people that I routinely enjoy working with, have kept up the high standards of the HHH and, as I’ve said already, been a great partner to myself and the Austin Daily Herald.

They are always willing to help with a story or pictures in a manner that always includes great conversation.

More than a few times Holly would accommodate my often forgetfulness and last minute calls letting her know that a deadline had caught up with me and always she was able to pick up my slack and get me what I requested.

Even at the height of a busy event that had her turning in 100 different directions, Holly could find the time to answer a question or point me in the right direction.

I would imagine Holly would be the first to tell you that she is only doing a job, but it always was done enthusiastically. It should be known that she did it in a way that always made her accessible and more importantly approachable.

There is no doubt that the HHH will miss Holly, but she leaves an organization that will surely hire the right person for the job.

In this year’s Progress, retiring superintendent David Krenz said: “Could the district still educate their kids and do a good job? Absolutely, and to me that’s the perfect sign of how you left the district.”

I couldn’t help but think of that as I wrote this column. The HHH will go on and it will do so in such a way as to continue its prominence in town thanks in large part to Holly’s work.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be different. Good people have that effect on those places they leave.

I know you didn’t want a story Holly, but here it is. Best of luck going forward and know you have left a lasting effect on the HHH and the Herald— as only a Johnson can.