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Released January 21, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Gen. Roger Barton Johnson, former executive administrative assistant to University of Southern Mississippi presidents Dr. William D. McCain and Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas, died Wednesday at his residence in Hattiesburg. He was 86.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 23 from 5-8 p.m. at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home in Hattiesburg, with services set for 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.

Interment will be at Highland Cemetery in Hattiesburg.

A native of Amory, Johnson was a highly decorated veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II as an executive officer with the 143rd Anti-Aircraft Battalion. Among many other citations for his military service, Johnson was awarded the Purple Heart and in 1951 received the Mississippi Magnolia Medal.

Johnson earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Mississippi State University, where he participated in the university's ROTC program. In addition to his military career, he also worked as a teacher and school principal. He came to Southern Miss in1956 when the university was known as Mississippi Southern College.

At Southern Miss, his duties included assisting in the oversight of property acquisition for the expansion of the university, and in the school's transition from college to university status. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Southern Miss School of Nursing, the DuBard School for Language Disorders and for the establishment of the University Libraries' de Grummond Collection. He retired from Southern Miss in 1982.

"We're indebted to Gen. Johnson for his years of tireless service to Southern Miss, and for his work to transform our university into a leader among the nation's institutions of higher learning," said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames.

Former Southern Miss President Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas also praised Johnson's role as "a key leader in the building of Southern Miss into a comprehensive university."

"Roger Johnson was a loyal and wise executive assistant to two USM presidents, both of whom appreciated his superb ability to solve the many problems which came to the president's office, to supervise the construction of facilities, to coordinate public information, alumni relations, development, financial aid, computing, and data processing as well as other university functions which were assigned to him," said Dr. Lucas. "We shall miss him as a colleague and a friend."

Survivors include his wife, Hattie Mae Johnson; four sons, Roger B. Johnson Jr. of Lock Haven, Pa., Stephen F. Johnson of New Castle, Del., Thomas Johnson of Brussels, Belgium and Burney P. Johnson of Birmingham, Ala.; a daughter, Memrie Kelly of New York, N.Y.; 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

"The DuBard School has lost a great friend in Gen. Roger Johnson," said Dr. Maureen Martin, director of the DuBard School. "He was instrumental in the planning and development of the Speech and Hearing Building and remained interested in and supportive of our services to children and their families long into his retirement. We will always remember with much gratitude the numerous ways he encouraged and helped Etoile DuBard (former director and DuBard School founder) and all of us over many years."

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be designated for the DuBard School for Language Disorders at Southern Miss through the USM Foundation, 118 College Drive, Box 10026, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM