Southern University System Board’s first chairman, influential community leader, dies at 82 | Education


The Southern University System’s first Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Lionel Johnson Sr., died April 28, leaving his legacy as a community leader and integral to the growth of the system.

Johnson, 82, was an alumnus of Southern University and A&M College, appointed by then-Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards as president of the Southern University System when it was founded in 1974.

“The Southern University System family sends its condolences and prayers to Reverend Johnson’s family, former colleagues and others who knew him well,” said Ray Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System. “Tower. Johnson’s service to our institutions was part of a great trajectory, making Southern the nation’s first system of historically black colleges and universities.”

Serving as president for 10 years, Johnson left the position to serve 28 years as the administrative assistant chief of the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson was an English teacher for eight years at East Feliciana Parish and pastored for more than 36 years at three churches in Sunshine, St. Gabriel and Plaquemine.

Johnson will be in state Friday, May 13 from 4-7 p.m. at St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Gabriel and Saturday, May 14 at First Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in St. Gabriel from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

The funeral will begin shortly after at 10 a.m., with interment at Heavenly Gates Mausoleum in Baton Rouge.

“He was the epitome of a servant-leader, not just for the South, but also for his community.” Belton said. “While his physical presence will be missed by many, his contributions will live on through countless more years to come.”


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