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John R. “Johnny” Waddell Sr.

John R. “Johnny” Waddell Sr., 80, of Dawsonville, died Aug. 31, 2017.

Born Jan. 27, 1937 to the late John E. Waddell and Hazel M. Jones, he was the eldest of three children.

He grew up with this sister, Sharon, and his brother, Gary, in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Johnny served in the U.S. Air Force 317th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and the 325th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

He was honored with a National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

His love of flying continued throughout his lifetime.

IN 1958 he married the mother of his three children, Frances, who he lovingly called Beulah.

They divorced in 1973 and he never remarried.

He was a certified master mechanic. Starting out at Chamblee Carburetor, then Plaza Pontiac, he worked for and then owned his own business, Ron’s Automotive.

Most recently he was a valued employee and team member of Grimes Automotive.

Johnny, also known as “Big John,” is well known and respected in the racing community as the crew chief of the Bruce Brantley Racing Team, inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in 2007.

Survivors include his three children, John Jr. “Speedy” and Lori Waddell, Raymond Scott and Tracie Waddell, Sherri and Steve Harmon; six grandchildren, Jason and Jeni Harmon, June Harmon, Amanda Waddell, Amanda Long, Johnny and Mandalyn Waddell, Jennifer Waddell; six great-grandchildren, Kaylee, Evan, Tristan, Lily, Scott and Sarah; various other relatives also survive.

The family is planning a memorial gathering of close friends and family at a later date.

Bearden Funeral Home of Dawsonville is in charge of the arrangements.