Homer Johnson leaves mark on GISD

Leaving a lasting mark, Homer Johnson has announced his retirement from Garland ISD. The legendary Executive Director of Athletics will end a 68-year career with the district Aug. 31.

“Sixty-eight years of service in education is incredible, but 68 years in one place is unheard of,” said Superintendent Bob Morrison.

Johnson’s ties to GISD actually reach even further back. He graduated from Garland High School in 1945 with district, bi-district and regional championship titles in football and baseball. Three short years later, he began a career at GHS as the youngest coach in Texas. He served the Owls for 14 years as both an assistant and head coach for baseball and football, leading district, bi-district, regional and even state championship teams.

When additional high schools opened, Johnson was promoted to the district’s athletic director. He now oversees programs at seven high schools and 12 middle schools. Under his watch, GISD has also built two athletic stadiums, including one renamed in his honor in 1978. And, the Curtis Culwell Center regularly hosts prestigious match-ups, such as UIL state championships.

“I have worked for Homer nearly 25 years,” commented Athletic Director Cliff Odenwald. “I witness his impact on the district and most importantly our staff and students every day.”

“I was hired by Homer in 1976," added Judy Campbell, GISD's first female coach who now serves as Assistant Athletic Director. "I have witnessed his support and development of women’s sports, going from non-existent to winning state championships." 

With such a legacy, it is no surprise Johnson's honors rival his years of service. He has been inducted into the Garland Sports Hall of Fame, the Texas High School Football Coaches Hall of Honor, the Texas Athletic Directors Hall of Honor, the Texas Football Hall of Honor and the Oil Bowl Hall of Honor. Other notable awards include being selected as the head football coach for the Texas team in the Oil Bowl and receiving the Garland High School Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Two local sports writers also published a book about Johnson in 2011 entitled That Crazy Kid.

“A true icon, Homer not only defined the athletics program in GISD. He also helped shape the district,” said Morrison. “We cannot express our gratitude enough for his commitment.”

Though Johnson will end his 68-year career with GISD Aug. 31, his ties to the district will continue. From a student to a staff member, he will now transition to an ambassador. Johnson plans to stay present throughout GISD, promoting athletic endeavors.

The district will celebrate Johnson’s past and future service from 2-5 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Curtis Culwell Center arena. Refreshments will be served and a program will feature guest speakers and a tribute video. The event is open to Johnson's current and former coaches and players, friends, family, colleagues and anyone wishing to celebrate his incredible service to Garland ISD. Oct. 28 is also the Garland High School homecoming game against North Garland High School. Johnson will conduct the coin toss before kick off at 7 p.m. at Williams Stadium.

For more information about his legacy, read his complete bio.