B. L. "Bozy" Johnston was born on September 16, 1922, at
Tyler, Arkansas, just east of Wilburn, the youngest of seven brothers and
sisters. He graduated as valedictorian of the 1939 Pangburn High School class,
and attended Harding University in Searcy. World War II had begun, so he
enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January, 1943, at the tender age of 20. He
went on to flight school and officer training, and flew as lead pilot and wing
leader in his B-24 Liberator bomber, "Witchcraft", based in Norwich,
England. He completed his 30 missions, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross
and the Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters in the process, and returned home
to Arkansas in 1945 where his wife Lynda and baby daughter Carol were waiting
for him. He received an honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1958,
retiring with the rank of Captain.
They built a home in Little Rock where Carol and her little
brother Bill attended elementary school. Bozy worked in highway construction
with a small firm that had family ties and Lynda stayed active with kids and
volunteer work at St. Vincent's Hospital.
Fast forward about 15 years, and Bozy and family moved to Heber
Springs, where he continued his career in highway construction. He started Rock
Products, Inc., in 1963, and went on to grow it into one of the best highway
construction companies in Arkansas. Locally, Rock Products and Bozy built many
projects: the overlook shelter where John F. Kennedy dedicated Greers Ferry
Dam; all of the original 10 Corps of Engineer parks around Greers Ferry Lake;
the raceways at the Little Red River Trout Hatchery; the Tumbling Shoals Water
System, which brought a municipal water supply to Tumbling Shoals, Drasco, and
surrounding areas; a major expansion of the Heber Springs Airport; all of the
streets on Eden Isle; many city streets in Heber Springs; and many other
projects throughout the region. He had a "nose" for rock and opened several
successful quarries around the state.
Although he never ran for political office, he was vitally interested
in local and state politics, and was an enthusiastic supporter of many
Democratic candidates over the years.
Bozy was instrumental in the building of the first Cleburne County
Hospital, serving on the original board of directors. He was the longtime
chairman of the Heber Springs Water and Sewer Commission, overseeing a period
of great expansion and modernization of the water and sewer infrastructure of
Heber Springs. He was a member of the
Heber Springs First United Methodist Church where he served on the building
committee during the construction of the Pine Street campus. He was a board member
of the Heber Springs State Bank.
Bozy served on the first State Building Services Council, which
was the agency responsible for overseeing construction of state buildings at
the State Capitol complex in Little Rock. He also served on the Arkansas
Contractors Licensing Board for many years, serving as chairman for several
Bozy passed away on August 18, 2005.