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In a business and public service career spanning nearly 40 years, George Dean Johnson, Jr. has built a reputation grounded on the same bedrock he has used to build one company after another. An accomplished leader and executive with a creative entrepreneurial spirit, Johnson is widely regarded as a business giant in his home state and beyond, and his legacy as a leader in both business and public service circles was secured years ago.
Born July 22, 1942, and raised in Spartanburg, Johnson was the eldest of the late Dr. George Dean and Elizabeth Heath Johnson’s three sons. A 1964 graduate of Wofford College, Johnson also earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1967.
Just two years out of law school, and years before he became known as one of South Carolina’s most accomplished businessmen, Johnson was elected to the state House of Representatives. He eventually served three terms, and can lay claim to an unusual if not unprecedented feat, winning election once each as an independent, as a Democrat and as a Republican, leading the ticket each time. Indeed, Johnson was known as a devoted and tireless worker for his constituents, a reputation that transcended party affiliation. Johnson also has served South Carolinians as chairman of the S.C. Development Board and as president of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce.
It is in his business career, however, where Johnson has made his most lasting mark. His executive board service includes seats on seven New York Stock Exchange boards: Extended Stay America, Norfolk Southern, Duke Energy, AutoNation, Inc., Boca Resorts, Advance America Cash Advance, and Blockbuster, Inc.
He co-founded and directed two companies onto the New York Stock Exchange in the 1990s. At the time, Advance America and Extended Stay America represented two of only three Spartanburg-based companies on the NYSE.
Today, Johnson serves as Chairman of the Board of Johnson Development Associates, Inc., a commercial, industrial, self-storage and apartment developer, and is general partner for Palmetto Hospitality, a developer of limited service hotels for Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt.
He and his wife, Susan Phifer Johnson (Susu), have two adult children: a son, George (Geordy) Dean Johnson III, and a daughter, Susanna Presnell Johnson.
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