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Retired Board Member Honored With Monument In Celebration Plaza



SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Recently retired Celebration board member Virgil Johnson was honored Monday night when a granite monument in his honor was unveiled in the The Celebration Plaza.

“Others may have worked as hard, but none harder than Virgil,” said Celebration CEO Ron Thomas. “His enthusiasm for seeing projects through when he was chairman of the building committee was incredible.”

Johnson was a member of the Celebration Board of Directors from 1993 until his retirement in 2002. Johnson moved to Shelbyville with the Josten's Corporation. He spent 36 years with that company before retiring in 1996.

“I’m completely humbled and honored by this gesture from the Celebration,” responded Johnson. “It was terrific to be part of a winning team and the bond I've built with the Celebration, the board and the staff is something I’ll remember forever.”

Johnson first became involved with the Celebration after becoming a member of the Shelbyville Optimist Club in 1963. One of his duties as a club member was to work in the Optimist Donut Booth. From that point on he was hooked.

During his tenure on the board, Johnson oversaw several major projects including the barn renovation project and the building of the Celebration Plaza.

“No equine facility in America has something like this (Plaza),” said Thomas. “It was Virgil's vision that made it come to life.”

The wording on the monument reads as follows: “The Celebration Plaza is dedicated in honor of Virgil Johnson, Celebration Board of Directors (1993-2002). His vision and determination to beautify and improve the Celebration Grounds will be his legacy.”

“Virgil was completely hands-on when it came to the barn project,” joked current board chairman Pat Marsh. “During the construction phase, Virgil was on the Grounds every day with a hammer in his hand checking the progress of the crews. You always hope to have people with his dedication. You just don't always get it.”

Following the unveiling of the monument, the Johnsons were hosted by the Celebration board of directors with a dinner in their honor at Calsonic Arena, where they presented the couple with several gifts of appreciation and a resolution marking Johnson's retirement from the board.

Johnson continues to recover from knee replacement surgery with the help of his wife, Pat. The accomplishments of which the couple are most proud are their four children and ten grandchildren.

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