Wallace E. Johnson, one of the founders of Holiday Inns died Wednesday, April 27, after a heart attack at his home. He was 86.
Although note for helping found Holiday Inns, he was the subject of national news mwdia attention as a home builder. Mr. Johnson was called "Henry Ford of housing" because he pioneered mass production techniques to make inexpensive housing. His first World War II homes cost $2,995 and that price included the lot.
Mr. Johnson was born in Edinburg, MS and worked as a carpenter as a youth and later as a salesman for a builders suply house in Memphis. On December 31, 1939, he borrowed $250 to go into the home building businessto take advantage of the Federal Housing Authority's willingness to offer home loans covering most of the cost of a house.
In 1940 he built 181 homes and expanded by building houses for war workers. His work took off from there.
Mr. Johnson was a deeply religious man. Among his numerous philanthropies, he served as an international chairman of Here's Life, a Christian youth crusade.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Wednesday, April 28, 1988.
s/w Alma M. Johnson
Alma M. McCool Johnson
1905–1988 (m. 1924)
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