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Catawba College Trustee Emeritus Honored by Business Associates

April 27, 2007

Category: Academics

Frances "Billy" Hedrick Johnson of Salisbury, a trustee emeritus of Catawba College, is being honored by her business associates with the establishment of a new scholarship at Catawba named in her honor.

Preference for the Frances H. Johnson Endowed Scholarship will be given to employees or dependents of the employees of Johnson Concrete, Carolina Stalite and Staclean Diffuser Company. Monies for the scholarship were given by Insteel Industries Corporation of Mount Airy. Mrs. Johnson served on the board of directors for Insteel Industries Corporation.

In 2006, Mrs. Johnson was told of the new scholarship during a private luncheon at the home of Catawba College President Robert Knott. Those attending the luncheon included Howard O. Woltz, Jr., chairman of  Insteel's Board of Directors and Inc., and  H. O. Woltz III, president and chief executive officer of Insteel Industries Inc.; Charles Newsome, general manager of Carolina Stalite Company; Mrs. Johnson's three daughters; and members of Mrs. Johnson's 'breakfast club.'

"Billy faithfully and capably provided support and guidance to Insteel's management and Board of Directors for 23 years," said H. O. Woltz III of Mrs. Johnson. "Her insight into dealing with opportunities and challenges proved invaluable on many occasions.

"When Billy announced that she would retire from the Board, there was overwhelming support from the remaining directors for establishing a scholarship opportunity in her name," Woltz continued. "We are delighted that this effort has come to fruition and we are confident these resources will provide life-changing opportunities for many deserving recipients."

Insteel Industries is one of the nation's largest manufacturers of steel wire reinforcing products for concrete construction applications. The Company manufactures and markets PC strand and welded wire reinforcement, including concrete pipe reinforcement, ESM and standard welded wire reinforcement. Insteel's products are sold primarily to manufacturers of concrete products that are used in nonresidential construction. Headquartered in Mount Airy, Insteel operates six manufacturing facilities located in the United States.

Mrs. Johnson serves as president of Johnson Concrete and managing partner of Carolina Stalite. She also serves as chairman of B.V. Hedrick Gravel and Sand, Company.

A Duke University graduate, she joined the Catawba College Board of Trustees in 1984 and provided more than 20 years of dedication to the institution. She served as secretary to the board and also served on its executive and trusteeship committees.

The Johnson Tennis Complex at Catawba was built as a memorial to her late husband Allen, an avid tennis player who managed Johnson Concrete Company until his death in 1984. Mrs. Johnson and her husband also provided funds for the swimming pool in the Abernethy Physical Education Center. The Allen S. Johnson, Jr. First Family Scholarship at Catawba was established by Mrs. Johnson and members of her family in memory of her husband, while the Daisy Harris and Burl Vance Hedrick Scholarship and the Hedrick Theatre in the Robertson College-Community Center on campus, memorialize her late parents, Mr. and Mrs. B.V. Hedrick.

A generous supporter of Catawba's various capital and endowment campaigns, Mrs. Johnson has also made gifts to fund the Johnson Deck in Shuford Stadium, and the Johnson Locker Room in the athletic field house.

"Billy Johnson is one of the most loyal supporters of Catawba. It is so very appropriate for her to be honored in this way," explained Catawba Senior Vice President Tom Childress. "She truly cares about education and sees it as a way to enhance and even change lives. She is unfailingly generous and civic-minded, and Catawba is very lucky indeed to have such an ally in the local community."

Catawba awarded Mrs. Johnson an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 1975 and the Adrian L. Shuford Award for Distinguished Service in 1990. In 2004, she was among Catawba Board of Trustees members who were recognized for their years of service on the board at a Service of Recognition and Appreciation.

An active member of First United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women, she is also a supporter of the Waterworks Visual Arts Center; the YMCA, where she served as president; Meals on Wheels of Rowan; and the Besty Brandon Book Club. She has served on the local board of NationsBank (now Bank of America) and on the executive committee of the Duke University National Council.

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