A memorial service for the late Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. is shown on a video screen on the side of a truck Friday afternoon, July 10, 2020, in Covington, Ga.

COVINGTON, Ga. — Fellow judges and top city and county leaders offered tributes to the late Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. during a ceremony Friday in a building newly renamed for him.

The public also got its final chance to see Johnson, with a public viewing following the event at the Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Judicial Building in Covington.

Alcovy Superior Court Judges John Ott, Eugene Benton and Ken Wynne and Senior Judge Samuel Ozburn were among those paying last respects.

Benton said he served with Johnson for 16 years and called him a “true friend.”

“A true friend is neither an anchor to hold you back or a sail to take you where you want to go. A true friend is a guiding light to show you the way there,” Benton said, his voice cracking.

“Horace was a bright, shining light that showed the way to a better community, a better court system, and a better state,” he said.

Johnson’s pastor, the Rev. Ralph L. Thompson Jr. of Columbia Drive United Methodist Church, offered a prayer of comfort.

Johnson’s goddaughter, Evie M. Hightower, gave a poetic tribute by reading “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou.

Ott led the event remotely from his home because he was still self-quarantining after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in late June.

He is chief judge of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit in which Johnson served as a Superior Court judge before his death July 1.

Ott has said both he and Johnson were diagnosed with the disease before Johnson went into cardiac arrest at his home and died.

Seating was limited inside the building as attendees were required to practice social distancing and wear masks.

Livestreaming of the tribute event was done on YouTube and Facebook.

Johnson’s family was to take part in a private funeral ceremony for the judge Saturday.

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