MONROE, La. (The News-Star) - UPDATED: [6/28/2017 7:00 p.m.]
When Derek Salter started working for Johnny's Pizza, he was still riding his bike.
That was 18 years ago.
Although he said he's not related by blood, he considers Johnny Huntsman family.
"We're a family inside our four walls and inside our company and a family as far as our customers," Salter said.
Today one of his family members was taken, and much too soon.
The owner and founder of the Johnny's Pizza Chain, Johnny Huntsman, died Wednesday morning after a battle with Alzheimer's.
"His legacy will live with us forever," customer Barry White said.
Huntsman is known for more than his popular pizza.
"Every time I saw his commercial he always had a big smile on his face, he was like a pizza superhero," customer Jacob Phillips said.
"I think he's a legend in the pizza place. It's been my favorite pizza since I can remember," customer Charlene Phillips added.
Huntsman is also known for giving back to the community.
"Any charitable cause that would come to him and ask for a donation or something, he just literally opened up his pocketbook for them," White added.
From his friendly smile, to standing in his unforgettable barrel outfit to draw business as he struggled to say afloat, community members and employees said the memories and the man he was will carry on forever.
"My hats off to Johnny Huntsman and all the good work that he's done and he'll be missed greatly," Phillips said.
According to our partners at The News-Star, Johnny Huntsman, a legendary entrepreneur who founded the Johnny's Pizza chain 50 years ago, died this morning in Oak Grove after a long illness. He was 77.
The funeral is scheduled at 2 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Oak Grove under direction of Cox Funeral Home. Visitation is noon until time of service at the church.
Huntsman, who opened his first store in Monroe in 1967 across from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, eventually opened restaurants throughout Louisiana and other states.
Read more at The News-Star.
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