Johnston to step down as city’s municipal clerk

Brenda H. Johnston, the city’s longtime municipal clerk, has announced that she is retiring after 30 years of service to the city.

Johnston’s last day in the office will be Nov. 30.

Johnston has worked for the city since 1982, and her career spanned three mayoral administrations. She was hired as an executive secretary to Mayor Gerald Blessey in 1982, she worked as municipal tax collector/treasurer and oversaw billing in the water department during the administration of Mayor Pete Halat, and she has served as office manager and municipal clerk for Mayor A.J. Holloway.

When Holloway took office in 1993, he tapped Johnston as municipal clerk, and also named her as acting director of administration until a permanent hire was made.

Brenda Johnston“I’ve known Brenda a long, long time,” said Holloway, who served as best man when Brenda Haise married Billy Johnston in 1959. “Billy and I were at Ole Miss at the same time, and I spent a lot of time with them watching TV, when I was supposed to be studying.”

As municipal clerk, Holloway said, Johnston was meticulous and paid attention to detail. Said the mayor: “She made sure everything was right. She knew her job, and you could count on her to do it.”

Johnston’s responsibilities included ensuring that all legal documents – such as contracts, public notices and agreements – are properly executed. In Biloxi, the municipal clerk is also responsible for processing of public records requests and assisting with municipal elections.

“This is certainly bittersweet for me,” Johnston said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the City of Biloxi, especially for Mayor Holloway, whom I have known and respected for many years.

“I have made many friends through the years, and I am going to miss the daily routine. However, I feel it is time to move on, spend more time visiting with my family and do volunteer work in my community. Life will go on.”

Johnston, a Biloxi native and lifelong resident, has had a far-reaching, behind-the-scenes influence on the community while at City Hall. She has volunteered for myriad city projects, from working with the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum during its formative years, to helping organize the annual Christmas on the Water celebration, served on the boards of the American Red Cross and on the Point Cadet Waterfront Master Plan, and has annually helped organize Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day at City Hall, and other city functions.

After Katrina, she coordinated the sister-city agreements that Biloxi established with numerous cities across the country. She also helped organize volunteer efforts.

Johnston is a 1958 graduate of Biloxi High School, is a certified municipal clerk, and has graduated from numerous certification courses during her tenure as municipal clerk. She also served a term as secretary of the Mississippi Municipal Clerks Association.

She and her husband Billy have three children, nine grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. Her brother, Fred Haise, was an astronaut on Apollo 13 in 1969.