Remembering the Life and Legacy of Former Delegate and Trustee Chair Joe Johnson ’57

by Billy Chandler
We are sad to report the passing of a Southwest Virginia legend who provided enormous leadership to the region, to the state and to his alma mater, Emory & Henry College, through a lifetime of service.

Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. was a Korean War veteran and 1957 graduate of Emory & Henry. He earned his law degree from the University of Richmond before returning to his native Washington County, Virginia to practice law for six decades. He served 28 years in the Virginia House of Delegates where he was affectionately known as “the Delegate from Hayter’s Gap.”

Delegate Johnson was a devoted and loyal alumnus of Emory & Henry, having served on its Board of Trustees for fourteen years, eight of which he was Board Chair. Johnson was recognized by Emory & Henry with a Charter Day service citation in 2001 and with an honorary degree in 2013. In appreciation for his leadership as chair of the Board for the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and for his support of higher education, its Grand Hall is named in his honor.

The Emory & Henry family mourns the loss of Joe Johnson, whose lifetime of service to this region, the Commonwealth, and to his alma mater has greatly inspired many. Delegate Johnson worked tirelessly, logging thousands of miles representing us in Richmond for years, and in his trademark way, shaking hands all along the way. Our hearts are heavy at this time, but our thoughts of the many ways in which Joe contributed to the betterment of Southwest Virginia and Emory & Henry shall long be remembered.

Delegate Johnson passed away earlier today at the age of 90. He is survived by his son, Joseph P. “Joey” Johnson, III ’84, daughter Mary Jo Neal, and son, Sage Johnson re-’92, their spouses, and children.

“The Emory & Henry family mourns the loss of former Delegate Joe Johnson, whose lifetime of service to this region, the Commonwealth, and to his alma mater has inspired many. Delegate Johnson worked tirelessly, logging thousands of miles representing us in Richmond for years, and in his trademark way, shaking hands all along the way,” said Dr. John W. Wells, Emory & Henry’s president. “Our hearts are heavy at this time, but our thoughts of the many ways in which Joe contributed to the betterment of Southwest Virginia and Emory & Henry shall be long remembered,” Wells continued.

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