First SU System Board chairman, Lionel Johnson Sr., passes away; funeral arrangements set

Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr.
Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr.(Southern University)
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 1:54 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 4:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr., the first chairman of the Southern University System Board, passed away on Thursday, April 28, the university announced on Monday, May 9.

“The Southern University System family extends our condolences and prayers to Rev. Johnson’s family, former colleagues, and others who knew him well,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University and A&M College. “Rev. Johnson’s service to our institutions was part of a great trajectory, forming Southern into the first system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation. He was the epitome of a servant-leader not only for Southern but also for his community. While his physical presence will be missed by many, his contributions will live on through countless more for years to come.”

Officials said Johnson will lie in state on Friday, May 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Gabriel. Services will be held at First Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in St. Gabriel on Saturday, May 14, with a viewing from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and the funeral beginning at 10 a.m. Burial will be at the Heavenly Gates Mausoleum in Baton Rouge.

Johnson, who was a Southern University and A&M College alumnus, was appointed to the newly-formed system of Southern’s institutions in 1974 by then-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. He was then elected as chairman and held the position for 10 years.

At the time, the system included Southern University and A&M College and Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Southern University at New Orleans, and Southern University Shreveport.

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