On August 26, Freed-Hardeman University will hold the 10th annual Tolling of the Bell ceremony in Loyd Auditorium. The ceremony marks the beginning of the new academic school year.
Each year, in addition to officially installing the freshman class as official alumni of the university, the ceremony features individuals that have been significant in the success of Freed-Hardeman University and the work of the church. The Masters of the Bell for this year have supported and served the church and Christian education throughout their many years together. Reared in Christian homes, Joe and Wanda Johnson have dedicated their careers and lives to God’s work. Their support and concern for living righteously makes them ideal examples and deserving of this high honor to begin Freed-Hardeman University’s one-hundred and forty-first year of teaching how to live and how to make a living.
Joe and Wanda Johnson met at Freed-Hardeman in the late 1930s where both earned their Associates degrees and became long-time, dedicated supporters of Christian education. The Joe and Wanda Johnson Endowed Academic Scholarship at Freed-Hardeman University was established in their honor.
Joe preached his first sermon in June 1938 and has served as a “located minister” for congregations in Nashville, Waverly, Tenn. and Hurricane Mills, Tenn., as well as Carbondale, Ill., and Anna, Ill. He currently teaches and preaches each Sunday morning at the Grassylead Church of Christ , south of Corning, Ark. and teaches the Wednesday evening auditorium Bible class at the Pyburn Street Church of Christ in Pocahontas, Ark., where they are members.
He has preached on radio and television for many years and currently broadcasts sixty-second messages daily on KPOC 103.9 FM in Pocahontas. Additionally, he participates with other local ministers who present “Speaking the Truth in Love,” a thirty-minute television program, broadcast every Sunday morning on KAIT-TV in Jonesboro, Ark.
Joe began a forty-year career with Sears, Roebuck and Co. in Shreveport, La., in 1939. At his retirement in 1979 he was serving as sales promotion and advertising manager for 26 Sears stores in Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
Wanda has always supported Joe in his work and has served the church as a Bible class teacher for many years. Additionally, she was a substitute teacher for 20 years at the Lakeshore Drive Junior High School in Shreveport, La., having taught “every subject offered, except Boys’ P.E., including band, choir, art and special education.”
Joe was born in Vernon, Ala., the fourth of six children born to the J.A. Johnsons. Wanda was the younger of two children born to the Hubert Halls of Tuckerman, Ark. Both Joe and Wanda were valedictorians of their high school classes. Married for almost 70 years (Sept. 26), the Johnsons have two children, Wanda Jo Moseley of Jonesboro, Ark . and Donald H. Johnson of Springfield, Mo. They have four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Both their son Don and son-in-law, Owen B. Moseley, are elders in their respective congregations.
The ceremony is open to the public. Past Masters of the Bell include John and Rosemary Brown, Rebecca and Regina Woods, Woody and Patsy Loden, Dr. E. Claude Gardner, Dr. Milton Sewell and Dr. Joe Wiley.