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Sudden death of Dunlap Vice-Mayor Jeff Johnson stuns city

Jeff Johnson died Monday morning after suffering an allergic reaction to a bee sting.  Photo courtesy of Dunlap Fire Department.

Oct. 8, 2018 – Dunlap officials struggled to hold back tears at a press conference Monday night announcing the unexpected death of Vice-Mayor Jeff Johnson.

Our hearts are heavy today as we learned of the sudden loss of Dunlap Vice-Mayor and City Commissioner Jeff Johnson,” Mayor Dwain Land stated.

Johnson, who was severely allergic to bee stings, was helping with work on the family farm early Monday morning, Oct. 8, when he was stung by a bee. His father, Jan Johnson, rushed him to Erlanger Sequatchie emergency room, but he did not recover.

Johnson was 46 years old, and had served on the Dunlap City Commission for over 11 years.

He was our senior member,” Comm. Jeff Harmon said. “Judy (Layne), the mayor, and I came in in '09, Allen Jones three years ago. Jeff was here longer than any of us. He was our anchor.”

Mayor Land described how Johnson grew up in Dunlap, graduating from Sequatchie County High School and going on to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which gave him a lifelong love for UT.

After school, he went to work for his father at his Exxon distributorship, and then Mountain Valley Bank, where he worked his way up to the position of senior vice-president of lending.

People a lot of times would go to him quicker than they would me,” Mayor Land said. “He was accessible. They saw him at the bank. He was a man to go to.”

Johnson was very active in the community, serving as secretary of the Board of Deacons at Dunlap 1st Baptist Church and as a recurring cast member, playing “Junior,” in the local production of Hee Haw. He also loved sports and helped coach Little League.

Fire Chief Norman Hatfield remembered Johnson as a “big supporter of the fire department. You could always go to Jeff and talk to him about anything. He was easy to talk to and to work with.”

Mayor Land consoles Jeff Johnson's brother, Brandon, at press conference, as Comm. Jeff Harmon looks on.

I have to describe him as the perfect vice-mayor,” Land said. “He was always there when I needed him and always pulled his share of the weight, and more. He seemed to truly enjoy putting in the hard work when necessary. He always did an outstanding job and had a vision for Dunlap's future that showed his love for his hometown.”

I'm finding words right now very difficult,” Comm. Harmon said. “He was my friend. He was a pillar of the community. We are heartbroken.”

Johnson is survived by his wife Becky, two step-sons, his mother, father, a brother and sister, two nieces, and two nephews.

L-r:  Mayor Dwain Land, Comm. Judy Layne, Comm. Allen Jones, and Vice-Mayor Jeff Johnson.  Photo contributed.

Obituary and funeral arrangements here.