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Official Obituary of

John Leslie Johnson

March 3, 1932 ~ July 9, 2023 (age 91) 91 Years Old
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John Leslie Johnson Obituary

John Leslie Johnson, 91, of Leesburg, Florida, passed peacefully on July 9, 2023.

John, known as “Leslie”, was a remarkable man who lived a fulfilling life dedicated to family, education, and community service. Born on March 3, 1932, in Leesburg, Florida, Leslie was the fourth of five children of John Wesley and Alice Horton Johnson. Throughout his life, Leslie excelled academically, artistically, and athletically, leaving a lasting impact on those around him.

Leslie’s passion for science, music and basketball shaped his early years. He displayed exceptional talent in these areas, becoming a team leader on the court while also showcasing his musical abilities on the piano and saxophone. After graduating from Lake County Training School (LCTS) in 1949, he went on to study Biology at Florida A&M University.

Upon earning his B.S. in Biology in 1953, Leslie served as a Medic in the 566th Medical Company during the Korean war stationed at Fort Sam Houston. Following his honorable discharge from active duty, he returned to Leesburg where he enrolled at Bethune-Cookman College to complete the courses required for his teacher certification while serving in the National Guard to fulfill his 10-year service commitment. During this time, he met and married Betty Wilson Henderson, and together they built a loving family with their daughter Kimberly and son, Gordon.

Leslie’s teaching career began in the mid-1950’s as a substitute teacher in Brevard County. However, it was when he returned to Leesburg and accepted a permanent teaching role at Dabney Elementary and later Rimes Elementary, that his career truly flourished. Known for his engaging and hands-on science classes, Leslie’s reputation as an outstanding teacher and leader grew. He furthered his education by obtaining an M.S. in School Administration in 1976 from Rollins College which led to his promotion to various administrative roles, culminating in his appointment as principal at Dabney Elementary School in 1979 where his father also served as principal of LCTS.

After nearly 40 years in the field of education, he retired in 1995 and generously gave his time, knowledge, and wisdom by serving on multiple boards, committees, and charitable organizations. Among them a Trustee at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, the Leesburg Police Officers Pension Board, the Community Development Corporation (“CDC”) of Leesburg, the Kiwanis Club, the Leesburg Public Library Advisory Board, the MADDADS of Greater Leesburg, Inc., among many others. He remained committed to the youth of Leesburg and often tutored them with the Retired Teachers Association. He also coached countless young teachers, principals and administrators seeking his advice. In 2006, he hosted “The Other Leesburg,” a locally produced television program highlighting the rich history of Leesburg’s untold Black community.

An avid news junkie, he spent his spare time watching a variety of news programs and reading incessantly about current events. He even became a Facebooker and could often be found reading the Facebook News and catching up with old military buddies, former colleagues, students and his grandson and children’s friends. As a younger man back in the 60’s and early 70’s, he played sax with a few local groups and one in particular called the “Soul Disciples.” He loved reminiscing about those days, his fellow bandmates, and the clubs that they played in. He loved listening to jazz and playing along on piano or saxophone with his favorite artists. Another favorite pastime was visiting Wal-Mart in the evenings to pick up an item or two and spend hours chatting with other shoppers.

Leslie was preceded in death by his father, John Wesley Johnson, his mother, Alice Horton Johnson, his brothers Daniel Johnson and Maurice Johnson, his sisters, Alice Johnson and Margerye Warren and an infant son, Christopher Gordon Johnson. He is survived by his wife, Betty Henderson Johnson, his daughter, Kimberly (Wayne) Wooden of Houston, TX, his son, Gordon (Beverly) Johnson of The Villages, FL and his grandson, Capt. Stephen (Khady) Wooden of Houston, TX; a host of devoted nieces and nephews including Juan Warren Sr., James Warren III, Dr Juanita W. Buddy, Judge Judith W. Hawkins, Joyce Warren, and Justina W. Murrell; grandniece Tamara Bender and extended family members.

Services will be held at Morrison United Methodist Church on Saturday, July 22, 2023, at 11:00 AM.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Friends of the Excelsior Library Foundation in Guthrie, OK, a library founded by his maternal grandmother, Judith Horton, in 1908 because her husband had been denied access to the city library and she wanted to facilitate the education of young Black boys and girls disadvantaged by race, access, and literacy.

Please mail your contributions to:

Friends of the Excelsior Library Foundation

Attn: Ms. Evelyn Nephew

P.O. Box 428

Guthrie, OK 73044

(405) 282-2083

www.guthriefriendsofexcelsiorlibraryfoundation.com

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Services

Funeral Service
Saturday
July 22, 2023

11:00 AM
Morrison United Methodist Church
1005 West Main Street
Leesburg, Florida 34748

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