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Johnson remembered as dedicated fireman

 

NATCHEZ — Former Natchez Fire Chief Paul Kenneth Johnson died Friday, June 28, at Adams County Nursing Center. He was 71.

Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Natchez National Cemetery.

Johnson’s daughter, Danessa McCullen, said most people knew her father as a dedicated fireman of 33 years before his retirement in 2008. Her family remembers him for that and more, she said.

Johnson had four sisters, two brothers, one daughter, one son and four grandchildren.

“He was a great leader, a great father and a great grandfather,” McCullen said. “He would do anything in the world for us, and there’s no limit to what he would do. … He was so proud of all of my daughters. … They were the light of his life.”

Johnson became the first black fire chief in Natchez in 2002 after he served as Deputy Fire Chief starting in 1995, said Johnson’s son-in-law and former fireman, Jamal McCullen.

Jamal said Johnson played an instrumental role in building the department’s newest station near McLaurin Elementary School after a station closed by Liberty Road.

“I can remember him securing funds and working with the city government to have a new station built,” Jamal said. “He was very professional and held his firemen to a high standard of professionalism and integrity.”

Johnson, a native of New Orleans, spent most of his life in Natchez, Danessa said.

Johnson was a 1966 graduate of Sadie V. Thompson High School and served in the U.S. Air Force until 1970, Danessa said.

Johnson worked at the old Armstrong Tire Company before joining the City of Natchez Fire Department, she said.

“He was so dedicated to his job,” Danessa said. “Being the fire chief was the epitome of his career. That’s what he always wanted and what he worked toward. He loved being a firefighter and loved being a fire chief even more. He never ever didn’t want to go to work. He loved going every day and loved what he did. … He was very respected among the community. He was a firm fire chief. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone.”

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