Black History Month Banner Program Honoree: Dr. Doris Laird Johnson
Dr. Doris Laird Johnson will tell you that she was born right next to the funeral home on Park Street in DeFuniak Springs, and is still involved in the funeral business to this day, but talking with the quiet woman reveals a history far richer than that simple description. Johnson attended schools in DeFuniak Springs and then graduated from Florida A&M, where she obtained both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. Doris taught school in Walton County, then Bay County, and later taught at Fort Bragg. Along the way, Johnson married David D. Johnson, who served as a career U.S. Green Beret, paratrooper, and member of the Special Forces. When David retired from the military the couple returned to DeFuniak to take over the family business, Park Funeral Home. Founded in 1944 it is one of the oldest in Walton County. Johnson is perhaps best known by Democrats for founding the Black Caucus of Walton County in 2006. She and friends recognized that Barack Obama was preparing to run for presidency and organized the Black Caucus to help in the campaign, which Obama would go on to win. Known to some DeFuniak residents as “Miss Doris”, she obtained a doctorate from NOVA Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Johnson will also tell you that she originally thought of a career in nutrition and graduate school in Iowa. Thankfully, Dr. Doris came home to DeFuniak Springs.