Johnson, William Woodward
Better known by his nickname “Hootie,” Johnson moved to Greenwood in 1943 when his father, an executive with Citizens and Southern National Bank, bought controlling interest of the Bank of Greenwood.
Banker. Born in North Augusta on February 16, 1931, Johnson is the son of Dewey H. Johnson and Mabel Woodward. He attended Greenwood High School and in 1953 graduated from the University of South Carolina, where, as a football back, he received the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He married Pierrine Baker of Greenwood on July 26, 1951, and they have four daughters.
Better known by his nickname “Hootie,” Johnson moved to Greenwood in 1943 when his father, an executive with Citizens and Southern National Bank, bought controlling interest of the Bank of Greenwood. The younger Johnson worked part-time for his father in high school and joined the bank full-time in 1953 as assistant cashier. In 1961 his father died and Johnson and his brother, Wellsman, took over the bank. In 1965 Johnson became South Carolina’s youngest bank president. In 1969 the bank was renamed Bankers Trust of South Carolina. In 1974 the company moved into the twenty-story Bankers Trust Tower, which was Columbia’s tallest building at the time.
Bankers Trust merged with North Carolina National Bank in 1986 and the institution eventually became part of NationsBank, then Bank of America. Johnson rose to chairman of the executive committee of Bank of America and was a director of the corporation.
Johnson served in the state House of Representatives from 1957 to 1958 and was cochairman of a committee to develop a plan for desegregation of South Carolina colleges and universities. He called this work, much of it behind the scenes, “probably the most rewarding of any public service I’ve ever done.” Johnson also served on the Columbia Community Relations Council and was a member of the Columbia Urban League and National Urban League boards. He also was chairman of the South Carolina Research Authority and a member of the State Development Board.
In 1998 Johnson became chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters golf tournament, and was credited with overseeing sweeping changes in the event. He also garnered national media attention from his adamant defense of the club’s males-only membership policy.
Institutions such as the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, Lander University, Converse College, Benedict College, Clemson University, B’nai B’rith, and the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame have honored Johnson. After fifty years in banking, Johnson retired in 2001.
Lunan, Bert, and Robert A. Pierce. Legacy of Leadership. Columbia: South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, 1999.