1968 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Hard work and dedication to your goals are the keys to success."
Wallace Johnson was born into a poor farm family at Edinburg, Mississippi. He earned his first dollar at age seven picking cotton. He learned carpentry as a teenager and later worked in a sawmill, a lumber yard, and as a building supply salesman. He went into the home-building business in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 38, with a $250 loan. Within a few years, his business was the largest and most successful in the South. In 1953, he joined with Kemmons Wilson, board chairman of Holiday Inn, to build the firm into a nationwide chain. The result was one of the most extraordinary business success stories of modern times. Johnson was later chairman of the board of Medicenters of America, Inc., which he founded in 1966 with Kemmons Wilson. He headed or held offices in more than 75 corporations.* Deceased