It’s a sad day at the Headliner News as we say farewell to one of our favorite recurring segments.
First of all, this is not a eulogy for writer Paul W. Johns. Paul is healthy and doing fine, but he is stepping aside from writing his weekly “MOzarks Moments” feature columns for our newspaper, at least for a while. We will continue to ask him to make a comeback whenever the opportunity presents itself, and Paul’s writing will always be welcomed to our opinion page if and when he feels the need to share something with us.
Paul Johns is going to stop writing MOzarks Moments for a while. He put a great deal of work into writing 565 columns over the years. He deserves a break.
We refer to Johns as “Mr. Nixa,” behind his back here in our office. It’s fitting that a search of our archives turned up some of his writing from 2008, in which Johns explained how many things and places in and around Christian County are named for people. For instance, Nixa itself is named after Nicholas Alexander Inman, the Nixa Public Schools Faught Administration Center is named for pioneer James J. Faught. Railroad investor Frederick Billings had a town named in his honor after donating $1,000 for folks to build a church.
MOzarks Moments columns were full of history, but they also contained plenty of lessons on economics, entertainment, politics, agriculture and science.
Johns taught us about famous Missourians Blind Boone, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Emmett Kelly, Walter Cronkite, President Harry S Truman, author Robert Heinlein and legendary baseball scout Tom Greenwade.
He also taught us about some not-so-remembered Missourians like “Doctor” Omar Palmer, Babe Kerr, “Bushwhacker” Alf Bolin, Martha Edna Wright, Carrie A. Nation and Martha “Calamity” Jane Canary.
He recounted tales of people and places familiar to Christian County residents such as the Bald Knobbers, Buff Lamb, Howard Garrison and Lindenlure Dam.
Fittingly, the last two MOzarks Moments columns taught us all about former Nixa mayor Finis Gold and the origins of Sucker Days. What better way for “Mr. Nixa” to close a chapter on the volume that is MOzarks Moments than to write about one of the most beloved figures from the very town he holds so dearly?
Johns officially retired from the Christian County Headliner News as an advertising sales representative in 2017. He appropriately put the phrase “retirement is not ‘The End’” in a farewell column.
“I also look forward to continuing to serve on the board of the Nixa Community Foundation and taking up what other causes may come my way to help our county,” Johns wrote in 2017. “And I especially look forward to spending more time with my lovely wife, riding our horses, working on our farm, taking the grandkids to breakfast and enjoying the beauty of the Ozarks hills.”
Not much has changed now in 2019, except that Johns should have a little more time for his wife, farm, grandkids and the experience of life in Ozarks. We commend him for all 565 of the columns he wrote, and we continue to hold out hope that he isn’t quite finished yet.