By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, May 14, renown political reporter, Bob Johnson, passed away at his son’s home in Gardendale, due to a massive stroke. He was 66. In his highly acclaimed career, Johnson was a witness to five decades of Alabama Politics with the Birmingham Post Herald, Montgomery Advertiser, and his last fourteen with the Associated Press (AP). Johnson retired in 2014 due to health problems. Bob Johnson was well liked by just about everyone in the capital press corps and most newsmakers.
Alabama Political Reporter editor, Bill Britt said, “The last time I saw Bob was at the Governor’s Christmas press lunch 2014. He had retired, but everyone was delighted to see him. He was late because he was speeding. The ticket didn’t seem to get him down, perhaps it was because he was among colleagues, perhaps it was because he was back on the beat, at least for a moment. Phil Rawls always kept us informed on how Bob was doing. Phil showed great love for Bob. Bob is gone from this life, be not from the hearts of those who knew him. His spirit lives on at the State House, in the men and women who learned from him, and those who did not, but wanted to be, honest journalists. He is missed, but will never be forgotten.”
Voice of Alabama panelist and former press secretary for Gov. Fob James (R), Claire Austin said, “Bob was a very fair, honest, and long time Capital Press Core reporter. I had the pleasure of working with Bob for over 18 years. Bob was always pleasant and kind, he will truly be missed by many on Goat Hill, throughout his career as a journalist.”
Alabama Political Reporter associate editor, Susan Britt said, “Bob was always quick with an encouraging kind word, a welcoming smile, and a twinkle in his eyes. He was so supportive of journalists new to the Capitol Press Corps, lending any assistance in helping us understand the complicated world that is Alabama Politics. His legacy will live out through the writings of his protégés, and those that they train to follow in their footsteps.”
Voice of Alabama panelist and former State House reporter, Beth Clayton said, “The best part about joining the Capitol Press Corps was working alongside some of the icons of Alabama journalism. I was only in the press room one session, but it was very apparent from the start that Bob knew everything I could ever hope to know. When he walked into the press room, your best bet was to scoot over and just listen to what he had to say.”
Johnson retired two years ago from The Associated Press nearly two years ago, has died. He was 66.
Bob was the State House reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser beginning in the 1970s. He moved on to the Birmingham Post Herald, where he was a reporter and editor. Johnson then moved on to the Associated Press where he worked alongside the APs Phillip Rawls.
Rawls told the AP’s Kate Brumback, “Bob’s trademark was writing human interest stories. He could find interesting people in any location, and he could write their stories in a way that captured readers’ attention through the final paragraph.”
State Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia) said in a statement on Facebook, “Today Alabama lost a jewel when veteran political reporter Bob Johnson died. Bob was an old school reporter who thought he should take a back seat to the stories he covered. He always played things fair and square. I never heard Bob’s integrity questioned and I never saw him go after anyone unfairly. He did his job honestly and pleasantly. His family and friends are in my prayers.”
Current AP State House reporter Kim Chandler told Brumback that Johnson was, “a talented journalist and an even better person.” “While he loved writing about politics, he also had a passion for telling stories of real people, happy, sad or quirky,” she said. “He loved nothing more than getting out in the back roads of Alabama.”
Former Gov. Robert Bentley political strategist, Angi Horn Stalnaker said on Facebook, “He was always so kind to people, like me in 2010, who were new to the Montgomery political landscape but he was also a fair journalist who was full of great stories about AL politics through the past few decades. I was sitting at the Farmer’s Market restaurant shortly after the 2010 elections espousing my belief that we were, somehow, going to magically right all of the wrongs of government and so on and so on and he just smiled and said, “Every new administration thinks that. You will probably be disappointed.” He was a very wise man.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.