Earl Freudenberg: Johnny Haynes Overcame His Disability To Become A Police Department Fixture

Sunday, January 23, 2022 - by Earl Freudenberg
Johnny Haynes
Johnny Haynes

Johnny Haynes was a special person. Under almost clear skies and 45 degree temperatures, he was buried Saturday afternoon when a small group of his friends gathered at Greenwood Cemetery off Wilcox Boulevard for the committal service.

The retired Chattanooga Police Department employee has been my friend since 1962.  The Central High School graduate was born with polio but was determined to overcome his disability. Mr. Haynes loved baseball and would walk from his Highland Park home to Engel Stadium to see the Chattanooga Lookouts.  (A large spray of roses with an Atlanta Braves ribbon covered his casket.) 

Mr.

Haynes said he saw sportscaster Gus Chamberlain entering Engel Stadium one day and asked him if he needed any help in the press box.  Gus put Johnny to work keeping his scoreboard for the radio broadcasts on WAPO.  Haynes said it was a lot of fun working with Mr. Chamberlain because he knew so much about baseball.  Haynes became friends with Lookouts owner Joe Engel and many of the players.  Haynes said he even had his picture made with Mr. Engel.

That was about the same time I got my first radio job helping Mr. Chamberlain doing the same type job inside the studio as Gus re-created the Lookouts away games from a ticker.  Johnny and I would talk frequently on the phone about issues related to the broadcasts. 

Mr. Haynes attended the former Woodland Park Baptist Church on Holtzclaw Avenue when Dr. J. Harold Smith was pastor. Mr. Haynes said one day Pastor Smith presented the Gospel very plainly and he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Mr. Haynes always wanted to be a police officer, but he knew early on his bout with Polio was a roadblock. He said one day he went into the Chattanooga Police Department office in the basement of City Hall on 11th Street. He said he told the sergeant he wanted a job.  The sergeant pointed him in the direction of the person in charge and he soon was answering the telephone.  Mr. Haynes said when the dispatcher would need to be excused he would cover the radio.  The police department moved to Amnicola Highway and Haynes moved with them. After over 38 years he retired as head clerk. 

Officer Dewey Gass said Mr. Haynes kept officers informed of any that were sick or had passed away. Gass said “Haynes was a great friend.” Officer Helen Cooper called him “one of a kind, always happy.”

Retired Officer Larry Davis, who is now with the Chattanooga Funeral Home, said Mr. Haynes would come by the East Chapel on Sunday morning on his way to church. Mr. Davis said he would join associates for coffee and have a kind word before going to services at the Edgewood Baptist Church on Ringgold Road in East Ridge.

Funeral Director Mike Blevins said Mr. Haynes was a cheerful man and never complained. Mr. Blevins said he was his friend and always had a kind word.

Pastor Dale Kidd delivered the eulogy saying Haynes was at church almost every time the doors opened until his health started to decline.  Pastor Kidd said after Mr. Haynes retired he was ordained as a minister and would share the Gospel with just about anyone who would listen.  The pastor said one of Johnny’s favorite verses was John 3:16.

Mr. Haynes enjoyed Southern Gospel Music.  His favorite group was the Kingsmen and he would request “Love would roll the clouds away”. Mr. Haynes looked forward to hearing sermons by Dr. Lee Roberson, Rev. Maze Jackson and Dr. J. Harold Smith.

Johnny Haynes lived a simple life taking care of his mother until her death.  His friends said he lived in their home place most of his life. 

Johnny’s co-workers summed up his life the best, “a hardworking, kind man, a great friend and person to work with.” Former Police Commissioner Ervin Dinsmore said, “Johnny Haynes was never sick and always at work. Rest in Peace.”

Earl Freudenberg

Late Gus Chamberlain, voice of the Lookouts for years
Late Gus Chamberlain, voice of the Lookouts for years

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