Rheta Grimsley Johnson

Major Works

Photo of Rheta Grimsley Johnson by Nancy Jacobs

Photo of Rheta Grimsley Johnson by Nancy Jacobs

  • Hank Hung the Moon (2012)
  • Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming (2010)
  • Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana (2008)
  • Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz (1989)
  • America’s Faces (1987)
  • They Didn’t Put That on the Huntley-Brinkley!: A Vagabond Reporter Encounters the New South (Hunter James and Rheta Grimsley Johnson, 1993)

Biography of Rheta Grimley Johnson

Mississippi writer Rheta Grimsley Johnson is an award-winning reporter, columnist, and travelogue/memoir writer. Her book, Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana (2008), is the memoir by Johnson of her love affair with the Cajun country of Southwest Louisiana.

Born in 1954, Johnson is a native of Colquitt, Georgia, but she grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. She studied journalism at Auburn University and graduated in 1977 from Auburn University. She was the winner of the 1974-75 National Pacemaker Award while on the staff of The Auburn Plainsman. She worked for several years as a general reporter for various newspapers, including the Auburn Bulletin, the Birmingham News, and United Press International before she began her career with the Memphis Commercial Appeal in 1980, working out of Greenville, Tupelo, and Jackson, Mississippi. In 1983, the Scripps-Howard News Service began distributing her columns nationwide to about 300 papers.  In 1994 she joined the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where she worked for seven years. Over the years she has won numerous other awards for her writing including the Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for human interest reporting in 1983, the Headliner Award for commentary in 1985, the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for commentary in 1982.  In 1986 she was inducted into the Scripps Howard Newspapers Editorial Hall of Fame. In 1991 Johnson was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Today Johnson’s column appears in about fifty newspapers nationwide and is syndicated by King Features of New York.

Photo of Rheta Grimsley Johnson by Nancy N. Jacobs

Photo of Rheta Grimsley Johnson by Nancy N. Jacobs

Johnson wrote America’s Faces in 1987. She wrote the non-fiction Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz in 1989. In 2000 she wrote the text for a book of photographs entitled Georgia.

She was once married to Jimmy Johnson, creator of the comic strip Arlo and Janis. She married retired journalism professor Don Grierson.  She and her husband Don lived in Iuka, Mississippi, with three dogs and two cats and purchased a second home in Henderson, Louisiana.   Johnson’s second husband Don died in 2009.  In December 2010, Rheta Johnson married Hines Hall, a retired Auburn University professor of history.

Johnson continues to live in Iuka, Mississippi, and writes one column a week

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Rheta Grimsley Johnson photo by Nancy N. Jacobs

Rheta Grimsley Johnson photo by Nancy N. Jacobs

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