Civic-minded Johnson dies at age 67

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 05:21 PM.

One of Danny Walsh’s finest memories was getting a sharp Marine Corps salute from Santa Claus.

That salute came from Al Johnson, who has played the role of the jolly old elf for the last 16 years in the Havelock Christmas Parade.

Johnson, a member of the Marine Corps for 20 years, died June 6 on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Johnson, of Carolina Pines, was 67.

“One of the great days of my life is when I was the grand marshal of the parade and when Santa Claus pulled up,” said Walsh, a Havelock commissioner. “He stood up and saluted me. It brought tears to my eyes.

“He’s just a great man and I’m sorry that we lost him. He was a fine, fine gentleman. He’s worked all of his life for the Shriners, for the city of Havelock, for the Marine Corps. He’s just a great dear friend.”

A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Johnson was in the Marine Corps from 1965 to 1985. After his retirement from the service, he worked at Rose Brothers Furniture in Havelock.

Johnson was the face of Santa Claus, either by riding a motorcycle during a Harley toy run or by waving from a sleigh in the city’s Christmas Parade.

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