A portion of Interstate 220 in Bossier Parish has been dedicated to the late Bossier City Marshal Johnny Wyatt.
Road signs have been placed on the east and west side of I-220 between Interstate 20 and the Swan Lake Road exit, designating that section as the “Johnny Wyatt Memorial Highway.” State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, and Bossier-Webster District Judge Jeff R. Thompson (who represented District 8 (Bossier Parish) at the time) proposed the legislation that was signed into law in 2014.
Wyatt served as Bossier City Marshal from 1991 until his untimely death in October 2010. Family, friends and former colleagues gathered for the official dedication ceremony, hosted by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. Patricia Wyatt was moved to tears as she spoke about her “big brother.”
“So many people have been so kind and thoughtful through the years. The Rotary Club established the duck race and BPCC has the memorial race in their BPCC100 event, but this sign is going to be there a long time after we’re gone,” she said. “We are very proud and humbled as his family.”
Adley said it “was a special day to put something out there for Johnny.” The dedicated roadway will now be a reminder to those who see it as a tribute to someone who loved Bossier and did his job well.
“I knew Johnny a long time,” Adley said. “The tragedy that occurred…I think we lost him because his heart gave out. He lost someone he loved very, very much and he was a great loss for the city. I never met a guy that loved what he did more than Johnny Wyatt did. The most important thing he did was protecting our children from internet predators. When we lost him, it was a great loss for all of us.”
Thompson said he is a better person today because of his friend, Johnny Wyatt.
“He made the lives that he touched happier, more energetic and more fun. He held you accountable and asked that you hold him accountable, too,” Thompson said. “This community was a friend of Johnny Wyatt’s and we’re better because of that. He worked hard to ensure that the Marshal’s office worked efficiently and effectively. He was truly a diplomat for this entire region.”
Thompson added that the location of Johnny Wyatt Memorial Highway was chosen to ensure that “every single person coming into Bossier Parish will see the name Johnny Wyatt and help us be humbled in remembering the impact he had on all of us.”
“Although there is a void in our lives since his loss, I think it’s also a challenge for us to each contribute more to our community to make up for that loss and in his memory,” Thompson added.
Adley and Thompson presented Wyatt’s son, Jeffery Wyatt, with a commemorative sign. Emotions filled him as he spoke.
“My dad was not a perfect man, but he always tried to do the next best thing” Jeffery said tearfully. “He was a big, big advocate of Bossier City and loved helping children any time he could.”
In 2006, Wyatt started the Northwest Louisiana Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. His pioneer work using technology to fight online predators and protecting children has become a model throughout the region.
“Everything that we are as an office, we owe to him,” Marshal Jim Whitman said. “We love him and we miss him every day.”