Emails from Readers February 15, 2015 and on:

Dear Ron,

Kudos to you for having the courage and desire to live in the moment.

Your commitment and contribution to the community and Lees-McRae College through sharing our news and accomplishments has done wonders for us all. 

We are so fortunate to have had your expertise and enthusiasm for as long as we have!

Now is your time to appreciate the world as you see fit, with all the energy and excitement you can muster.

 Have fun, be spontaneous, rock out, take some chances and enjoy the consequences, dance, sing, emote, enjoy nature, eat and drink delicious things, take time to do absolutely nothing, and know that you are wished “God speed” and much happiness by all your friends. You will be greatly missed.

Best of luck on your journey!

-Deborah Buxton
Lees-McRae College

Dear Ron,

What a shock and disappointment for me. As you may know, I am one of your biggest fans and I have praised you work near and far. 

You have made a tremendous difference in our community and certainly for the College. 

We can never replace your energy, passion, vision, and love of our community.

I pray that your days in retirement will be filled with good health, happiness, and love all around.

Your friend,

Dr. Barry Buxton
President, Lees-McRae College


You are one of the best journalists ever! 

Thank you for sharing your talent, reporting the news, sharing real life stories that matter, your humor and most of all for loving people! 

Enjoy your list of 'now I can do it!' May God bless and be with you!

-Martha Davis 
Director of Communications
Avery County Schools

Copyright 2012-2015 Ronald Tee Johnson
All Rights Reserved

Banner Elk Magazine

Celebrating Banner Elk, NC!
The People. The Beauty. The Spirit.

The One Stoplight Town.

The One Stoplight-Mountain-College Town

The last issue of Banner Elk Magazine was published on Sunday, February 15, 2015 following 827 consecutive Monday through Friday issues with subscribers in 29 states and 17 countries.

I want to share with you the more than 300 emails received since the announcement of the last issue and hopfully I will have all of them here for you to enjoy in the very near future.

February 15, 2015 issue

The last issue of 
Banner Elk Magazine

There comes a time in life when you wake up one morning and realize that you can do anything you want to do and don't have to account to anyone or anything.

At that point you can enjoy financial independence and no longer have to be concerned with money or the pursuit of money.

When you wake up on that glorious day you don't have to be anywhere you don't want to be and you don't have to put up with negativity .... the negative part of the world in which we live and those negative people among us who choose to produce that negative side for their own, selfish reasons.

On that morning you realize once again that family, friends and good health are the most important things in your life. 

Also on that day you become excited about the possibilities the future brings. A bubble of excitement overwhelms you as you begin to think about what lies ahead.

The possibilities are endless even if it is only to play golf everyday or write a blog about something that will be of benefit to people or just because you like doing it. Most daily readers of Banner Elk Magazine know exactly what I am talking about here. 

In my case I chose to share with people all over the world a little tourist town in the amazing mountains of Western North Carolina - The One Stoplight Town, Banner Elk.

Banner Elk Magazine is beyond a doubt the most fulfilling work I have ever done in my 48-year career as the owner of four magazines and five newspapers, and as the owner of a advertising, marketing and public relations company since I was 23 years old.

Most gratifying was that I felt the daily online magazine was making a difference by bringing more visitors here (tourism is up in Banner Elk) and recognizing the full-time residents and summer residents for their good deeds.  
I have found that most folks in town do what they do and don't need or expect recognition, but it sure made me feel good to tell readers in 29 states and 17 countries about their good work and, most importantly, about their causes.

I have never witnessed such profound love for community as I have found in Banner Elk. As an example, a person giving $25 of hard-earned money to help feed the poor of Avery County is more from the heart than a million dollar donation which in part is a income tax write off.

The number of people who complimented my work in person and those who emailed in support of my work over the past three years has been incredible and all are in a scrapbook that I will always covet.

There have been days along the way toward more than 800 consecutive Monday through Friday issues that I opened up and read my "compliments" file to give me a boost! 

But, now it is time for me to move into yet another phase of life. There are so many things I want to do and even though I really don't like the ring of "bucket list" I do have one that I would like to share even though they are not in order of importance. 

1. Hike the Appalachian Trail. I can jump onto it nearby at Roan Mountain. Might be a mile or 1,000 miles, but I want to be able to say that I did it. 

2. Drive over a number of weeks the full length of the fabulous Blue Ridge Parkway stopping along the way to camp, take in all the beauty and meet the amazing people who are part of the fabric of our great country.

3. Get back into woodworking and create and produce things that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

4. Buy a "fixer upper" and personally turn it into a showpiece worthy of airing on HGTV. It would also include creation of landscaping, a hobby of mine or years.

5. Stay two weeks at Christmas time (again) at The Plaza in Manhattan and learn, for the first time, how to ice skate.

6. Continue training my Golden Retriever, Sugar, to catch a ball thrown 40-feet in the air more than 10 consecutive times (his record to date). Also train Sugar to become a Frisbee champion.

7. Go to at least a few more Super Bowl, NCAA and NBA championship games. Among the hundreds of games I have attended the most memorable was when I saw Bill Russell versus Wilt Chamberlain in the old Cow Palace in San Francisco. To me there is nothing more exciting than to see great athletes in action.

8. I was fortunate as a kid to visit every state in the union by the time I was 16 except for Maine so I would like to go there. I think I have seen every major scenic attraction in the country with the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park being the most spectacular along with the Space Needle in Seattle where I grew up. But, then again, the Grand Tetons, the Painted Desert, the Mar-a-Lago Club, Sears Tower ... the list goes on and on.

9. More hands on in providing for the less fortunate - food, shelter, clothing, education. I know these folks and I have great compassion for them as during the winter they have to decide which to pay - the heating bill or groceries.

10. Continue my love of photography and taking at least one photograph that will be noted for the ages.

And, there are many more things that could be added to the list, but that's the core of it and I am ready to get started! 

Banner Elk Magazine was a wonderful experience and I thank you for making the journey so beautifully fulfilling.

Email Ron


Sorry we missed a conversation about all this yesterday, before it hit the cloud!  

After talking the other day, though, I'm not surprised that this is your next step--I just didn't think it would be quite so fast.

Again after talking the other day, I remember the look on your face, and the "glow" that accompanies a decision happily made. I'm guessing you're still glowing.

If you are interested in more conversation about anything--you know where to find us. Sleep well!  

-Ann Swinkola
Secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk


I’m not surprised to hear that you have received “an avalanche of emails” expressing thanks and admiration for you and your work with BEM. 

Many, many people have gotten to see your soul through your daily expressions of joy and love for Banner Elk, its people and its beauty. I, for one, would start to look at my inbox about 11:30 am each weekday in hopes of finding the new edition. 

-Jim Swinkola 
A fellow Kiwanian and retired CEO of Grandfather Home for Children in Banner Elk. 

February 15, 2015 - The last issue of Banner Elk Magazine