Honoring Dark Horse pride


Dale Johnson recognized for commitment to Clinton schools

By Kristy D. Carter - [email protected]



A reception was held Monday night to honor Dale Johnson as the first recipient of the Pivotal Dark Horse award. Pictured with Johnson are Steve Cox, Bob Lewis and Bobby Robinson.


Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent

This painting of Dale Johnson was done by Clinton High School art teacher Michael Ray and given to Johnson during a reception in his honor.


Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent

Dr. Bill Starling shakes hands with Dale Johnson during a ceremony that honored the long-time Dark Horse for his dedication to Clinton City Schools.


Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent

Dale Johnson has spent a good part of his life serving the Dark Horse community, and was honored for those many years of dedication Monday night by the Clinton City Schools Board of Education.

Johnson, who graduated from Clinton High School, and later ran a law practice in Clinton, was recognized as the first recipient of the the Pivotal Dark Horse award for the many years he has taken an active role in changing ordinary activities.

“Dale Johnson is a loyal member of the Dark Horse family,” board member E.R. Mason shared during the presentation.

Hundreds gathered, filling the atrium at Clinton High School, to personally thank Johnson for his service and witness him being honored with not only the Dark Horse award, but given the key to the city by Clinton mayor Lew Starling.

“I would like to present the 16th key to the city in honor of his work and his life,” Starling said about Johnson.

As a member of the Clinton High School class of 1961, fellow classmate Jim Matthews said Johnson wasn’t only instrumental in the classroom and on the athletic field, but played a huge part in helping many others become successful.

“We are here to celebrate Dale’s many years of service to the Clinton City School system,” Matthews said. “I would like to congratulate you for carrying on the Dark Horse tradition.”

Johnson’s service began as a student, attending Clinton City Schools and has extended through the last five decades.

Speaking on Johnson’s behalf, his wife Dianne shared words that her husband dictated to her just the night before, as Johnson is suffering from Parkinson’s.

“Thank you to the Clinton City Schools board for this day and this honor,” Johnson expressed through his wife.

Known as “Mr. Clinton,” Dianne said her husband truly loves the Clinton community, and has worked throughout the years to help Clinton, and its people, become a huge success.

“Being a part of Clinton has been very instrumental in forming his character,” Dianne said about her husband.

Johnson has worked and worn many hats through the years, beginning with his service in the Army Reserves, then his stent as a NFL agent, and even a lawyer, but he is most known for his commitment to the Dark Horses.

According to Dianne, Johnson and some of his friends have traveled to more than 600 Dark Horse football games, and he was the driving force in the construction of the current Dark Horse stadium.

In 2009, when the idea of a new Clinton High School was just that, an idea, Johnson, along with fellow law partner Doug Parsons, worked to raise $2.4 million in just four months, which allowed for not only a new high school, but the construction of additional classrooms and an auxiliary gym to better serve the students.

Dianne shared a list of names Monday night, the names of students who were athletes and part of the Dark Horse family that have gone on to become a part of the growing tradition. These people, Dianne said, were part of the Johnson family and included athletes who eventually played for a college in either basketball or football and even in the NFL.

“We hope we had some impact on these and so many other lives in the community,” Dianne said.

A reception was held Monday night to honor Dale Johnson as the first recipient of the Pivotal Dark Horse award. Pictured with Johnson are Steve Cox, Bob Lewis and Bobby Robinson.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Dale1.jpgA reception was held Monday night to honor Dale Johnson as the first recipient of the Pivotal Dark Horse award. Pictured with Johnson are Steve Cox, Bob Lewis and Bobby Robinson. Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent

This painting of Dale Johnson was done by Clinton High School art teacher Michael Ray and given to Johnson during a reception in his honor.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Dale2.jpgThis painting of Dale Johnson was done by Clinton High School art teacher Michael Ray and given to Johnson during a reception in his honor. Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent

Dr. Bill Starling shakes hands with Dale Johnson during a ceremony that honored the long-time Dark Horse for his dedication to Clinton City Schools.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/web1_Dale3.jpgDr. Bill Starling shakes hands with Dale Johnson during a ceremony that honored the long-time Dark Horse for his dedication to Clinton City Schools. Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent
Dale Johnson recognized for commitment to Clinton schools

By Kristy D. Carter

[email protected]

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.

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