Sherroll Tatom pays it forward, presents Rotary scholarship in honor of Johnston

Published 3:00 am Saturday, October 12, 2019

For Sherroll Tatom, Wednesday, October 9,2019, was a special day in Brundidge. It was a day that, for him, was a long time coming.

“That’s usually the way it is when you have something on your mind and on your heart,” Tatom said. “I’ve had this on my mind for a long time.”

Tatom, addressed the Brundidge Rotary Club to present a scholarship in honor of Donald Johnston, Jr. and his wife, Ferdie, and to recognize them for the lives they have enriched through the 45 scholarships they have awarded through the Brundidge Rotary Club’s scholarship program.

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Tatom said Donald Johnston Jr. was born in Brundidge during the Depression years when life was not so good. He lost his father at age 11 and became the “man of the house” for his mother and four sisters.

“Donald Jr. grew up among people he loved and those who loved him,” Tatom said. “Through the way the people in his hometown lived their lives, he learned about hard work, about honesty, responsibility, commitment and dependability. He learned to be understanding and to care about others.

“What makes a man like that? Growing up in a small town, and not just any small town. A small Southern town where people are like family. By the time, Don was 15 years old, he knew almost everybody in town and probably everybody knew him. People looked out for each other.”

Tatom said Johnston worked in downtown stores and through those community associations, he fell in love with the town and its people.

“When it was time for him to go out and make his way in the world, he carried those memories with him,” Tatom said. “He patterned his life after those in his hometown. When a situation would arise, he would ask, ‘What would mister so-and-so do about this?’ and that would guide his decision. What Don learned as a young boy served him well throughout his very successful business career.”

Johnston’s business career culminated at Boyd Bros. Transportation in Clayton. When he started with Boyd Bros., the company was running 50 trucks. When he retired, the company ran 1,000 trucks.

But, along the way, Johnston did not forget his hometown and those that helped pave the way for his success.
In 1997, Donald and Ferdie Johnston established a scholarship in memory of Harold Rodgers. In coming years, they established scholarships in memory of Robert L. “Bob” Godwin and in honor of Wilburn E. Howard, Lawrence Bowden and Sherroll Tatom.

These annual scholarships were a way Johnston could recognize and honor those who had helped him throughout his life, Tatom said.

“There is no way to measure the positive impact these scholarships, that now total 45, have had on the recipients, through the generosity of Don and Ferdie,” Tatom said. “Because of their generosity and Don’s love of his hometown, I decided the Brundidge Rotary Club should have a scholarship in his name. So, I am honored to establish a Brundidge Rotary Scholarship in the name of Donald Johnston, Jr. and Ferdie Johnston.”
Johnston expressed appreciation for the honor and said there was no way to express what the scholarship in his name and that of his wife means to them.

Johnston said Brundidge is home and he has a deep and lasting appreciation for those who loved him and guided him throughout his young years and continued to inspire and encourage him throughout his life.

“For an ol’ country boy like me, home is always in the back of my memory,” he said. “I thank Sherroll for this very special honor. Today is one of the best days of my life.”