Interview by Abernathy Cochran intern and Gainesville High Senior Donangelo Marshall
Meet Reverend Rose Johnson, the executive director of the Newtown Florist Club. Rev. Rose is a lifelong Gainesville resident and has two daughters and six grandchildren. She said her favorite thing about Hall County is, “Just the geography, the beauty of the county, that includes all of the places that you can go.”
We want to thank Rev. Rose for spending time with us recently and telling us more about her life and love of Hall County.
Question: Please tell us a little bit about you.
Answer: “I was born and raised in Gainesville, I attended Gainesville High School, I have two girls and six grandkids. I went to school and studied at Political Science at the College of Charleston and received a Master of Divinity from AMU University. I have lived and worked in this community for a long time, I worked in Atlanta, I served as the National Program Director for the Center for Democratic Renewal, I have served as a National Program Director and board member for the National Coalition for Burned Churches.”
Q: Please tell us a little bit about the history of Newtown Florist Club.
A: “Newtown Florist Club was established in the 1950s by the women in the community who love their community, women initially came together as a social club to serve as a flower women for their neighbors when they lost loved ones. Not just that, but they would also take good care of the people in the community because this is the kind of community that neighbors looked out for neighbors…like a village.”
Q: Can you tell us your favorite thing about the community?
A: “Newtown is a beloved place, it is a beloved community and so it does not matter at what moment a family enters; it is still is a beloved place for low-moderate income families.”
Q: How long have you been the Executive Director of Newtown Florist Club?
A: “I have been involved in the Newtown Florist Club since I was 12 years old…today, I serve as a Chaplain at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and since 2016 as the Executive Director of Newtown Florist Club. ”
Q: Please tell us about your current career. What do you love most about what you do?
A: “I don’t feel like I was led into a career because I feel like my entire path in life has been my destiny. I’ve always been involved in community in this way and my professional career is the same as my public life. I’ve been fortunate enough to merge both. I have been involved in the advancement for rights of human being in all levels, to try to make sure that people are treated fairly, justly and with human dignity.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in our community?
A: “The most interesting person that I’ve met is Tom Jones with Habitat for Humanity. He’s a visionary and his outlook on life is just pretty profound in terms of how he sees change possible to the lands of poverty and how he deals with issue with of poverty and how they affect the community.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “Maybe about a decade ago, I traveled to Ghana, West Africa and…I would go back there because I had a spiritual connection to the place and the people; it was life changing for me.”
Q: What is one of your favorite movies or what is the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
A: “My favorite movie the one that comes to my mind is ‘More than Friends.’ It’s an old movie but it reminds me of how important it is to hang in there with children and even during times when you can’t really see your way through.”
Q: What advice would you give to a crowd of people?
A: “Hold on to each other. Expect the differences that might be in the midst of a crowded place.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “To see old friends that I haven’t seen for a long time and to be able to go back to the places and reconnect to past relationships.”
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about our community?
A: “I would say the Kool Cone that was on Athens Street back in the day. It was a place where you could go and get ice cream and hot dogs, but it was such an integral part of the community.”
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you meet for this lunch?
A: “The former Recreation Director for Gainesville Parks and Recreation, was Bill White…I remember as a young child he would come over to this community. At that time, we only had a raggedy basketball goal in one of the (Newtown Florist) founders driveways and that’s where all of the kids used to come together to play basketball. Bill would bring used basketballs and bring sports equipment to the community. He was always welcome and he shared a lot of love and kindness with the community. We will never forget him because he just walked in the kind of love that was so authentic. I would like to have lunch with him and just sit on the porch.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
A: “Just the geography, the beauty of the county, that includes all of the places that you can go.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
A: “I will be spending a lot of time writing several books that I am preparing to or write about various things that happened in life down. I am looking forward being able to spend that time reflecting, writing and thinking about this journey.”
Q: Even for friends and family, what is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: “I love to plant flowers. I like to plant rose, bushes, perennials and I also enjoy putting my fingers in the earth and anything that grows out of it is of beauty to me.”
Q: What three words or phrases comes to mind when you hear the word “HOME”?
A: “Peace, Quiet and Relaxation.”
Q: If you have a full-time staff member that is fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, housekeeper, driver, coach, personal fitness trainer or nanny?
A: “I think a personal fitness trainer.”