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Longtime Dollywood greeter passes away

Johnnie Crawford worked at Dollywood since the day it opened in 1986.

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — One of Dollywood's oldest greeters has passed away. 

Johnnie Crawford began working at Dollywood when the park opened in 1986. She passed on Saturday, according to her obituary. She was 94 years old.

Dollywood officials said that Crawford was still an active employee, and came to work as her health allowed. She was Dollywood’s eldest host at the time of her passing.

"Ms. Johnnie personified the warm and inviting friendliness for which Dollywood has become so well known," Dollywood officials said. 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. 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."

10News sat down with Johnnie in 2017 to talk about her love for Dollywood. 

"I remember it just like it was yesterday,” Johnnie said in 2017. “When I hired in, the guy asked me 'how long you think you're going to work Johnnie?' and I said probably 10 years because I was older at the time, and he said 'you need to stay longer than 10 years and I said ‘well I’ll try.'” 

Johnnie Crawford waits to greet museum visitors.

Johnnie was 58-years-old when she took the job at Dollywood, but she didn't start out as a greeter. Her first Dollywood job was as a baker, but she knew she had a flair for something else. 

"I was a baker and worked one year and said I don't want this, and they said 'want to work in Dolly's museum?' and I said yeah!" Johnnie said.  

Johnnie first started working when she was 14-years-old. Previously, she held jobs at a seatbelt company, podiatrist's office, and a nursing home.

Funeral services for Johnnie are set for Wednesday. 

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