One of Dollywood’s longest employees passes away

Johnnie Crawford’s family described her as “tough and gentle” after growing up in the Great Depression.
Johnnie Crawford worked for the theme park when it first opened in 1986.
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 2:22 PM EST
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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - One of Dollywood’s longest employees died unexpectedly on Saturday.

Johnnie Crawford, who began working for the theme park when it first opened in 1986, passed away at 94 years old on Dec. 18, according to her obituary.

“I like to tell people I came with Dolly,” Crawford told WVLT News in 2015.

The life-long East Tennesseean, who began working for Dollywood at 58 years old, loved Dolly Parton and reportedly never missed one day of work in her 32 years.

“Ms. Johnnie personified the warm and inviting friendliness for which Dollywood has become so well known. She was a bright light for every guest who visited Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum, and she often said her favorite part of the job was being able to meet so many different people and learn about them,” Dollywood officials said. “It was a common sight to see her fellow Dollywood hosts stopping by to say hello and enjoy time with her. In fact, each time Dolly visited the museum, Ms. Johnnie would joke with her that they both started their jobs at Dollywood at the same time—when the park opened in 1986. She certainly will be missed by her Dollywood family.”

Her family described her as “tough and gentle” after growing up in the Great Depression and said she could survive on very little.

“She would wake up at 4:30 every morning and walk her dog Gypsie,” her family said. “She loved to work, stayed happy and ate what she wanted, including tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. She will be missed by so many.”

Funeral services are set for Wednesday, Dec. 22. Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared on the Berry Funeral Home website.

Dolly Parton and Johnnie Crawford
Dolly Parton and Johnnie Crawford(Dollywood)

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