Cafe remembers beloved manager

A cross marks the place where Johnes Sawyer was struck and killed.
A cross marks the place where Johnes Sawyer was struck and killed.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) --At the cafe inside the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, there is a silence that's not so golden for Lara Lewis.

"Without Johnes it's going to be hard for everybody," said Lewis who is the Director of Public Relations for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

While the cafe mourns Johnes Sawyer's death, Daphne Belser sits in the Montgomery city jail, charged with DUI, according to investigators who aren't saying much about just what happened.

It happened early Saturday morning.

Sawyer was trying to cross the Eastern Boulevard between Young Barn Road and Arbor Station Road when he was hit by a car allegedly driven by Belser.

Sawyer died on the scene. A cross now marks the location.

"Johnes was truly a renaissance man. He loved art, writing, poetry and symphony music," said Lewis.

That meant Sawyer was Heaven.

Surrounded by art at the museum,  Johnes Sawyer had three items set aside to purchase in the gift shop next door, one side of a man Lewis appreciated.

"Now he won't get to enjoy those pieces," said Lewis.

In fact, plans are already in the works by a local artist to capture the essence of Sawyer, one of his quotes will be inscribed on what's known as 'mood' plaques.

"He always said 'don't complicate your life by trying to figure out what everyone else is thinking,' Lewis remembered.

But what really stood out for Sawyer was the way he interacted with customers. Sawyer managed the cafe, and always made a point to get to know his customers, relationships that never stopped blooming.

"He never met a stranger. He served as the perfect host to everybody who came through here. He remembered what you like even if you've only been here twice. Johnes was a tremendous person," said Lewis.

And a tremendous loss for the Cafe.

Johnes Sawyer was 62 years.

Lewis says orders are being accepted now for anyone who wants to buy a plaque with Sawyer's quote on it.  The plaques are $25.00 a piece and you can call 240-4350 or you can email the museum at

Lewis says the proceeds will go to Sawyer's family to help defray funeral expenses.

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