James Russell Johnson, 84, a resident of Morton, MS passed away Sunday, January 20, 2013 at his home in Morton. Born on September 23, 1928 in Pulaski, MS. James Russell was the son of J.C. and Zola Miles Johnson. A 1947 graduate of Morton High School, he attended Clarke College and Mississippi College before serving in the United States Army for two years during the Korean Conflict. He returned home and graduated from Mississippi College, where he majored in Physical Education with a minor in Math and Social Studies. He coached basketball and taught Math at Ringgold School in Scott County for three years before moving to Hancock County. He coached one year at Kiln School and one year at the newly formed Hancock North Central where he won the Overall State Championship in 1960. He returned to home to Morton in the fall of 1960 to coach girls basketball. In 1964, he became the principal of Morton High School, and in 1968 was promoted to Attendance Center Principal, a position that he held for fifteen years. He served as Assistant Superintendent for two and a half years and as Superintendent of Scott County Schools before his retirement in 1988. Mr. J.R. is remembered by his former students, players, and co-workers as a loving and compassionate friend. He influenced and touched hundreds of young people's lives over his 33 years in education.
James Russell was an active member of the Morton Lions Club where he was a past president. He was also actively involved in the Mississippi Attendance Center Principals, having served as president. He also proudly served as Executive Secretary of the Little Dixie Conference. After his retirement, he enjoyed working for Protective Life Insurance Company and selling library books to schools. He also served on the Administrative Board of Scott Regional Hospital.
His passions were his family, especially his grand-daughters, Jana and Kara Beth Johnson and his church. He served as a Sunday School teacher for over 60 years and served as a deacon for over 50 years.
He is preceded in death by his parents, J.C. and Zola Miles Johnson; Step-mother, Gladys Shelton Johnson; sister, Ruby Nell Johnson Stancil; brother-in-law, Robert Stancil; step-brother, Trent Shelton; father and mother-in-law, William and Ozella Sharp; brother-in-law and wife, Billy and Marilyn Sharp; and nephew, Bob Tom Johnson, Jr.
He is survived by his loving wife of 58 plus years, Iola Sharp Johnson of Morton, MS; Sons, James R. (Jim) Johnson, Jr. and wife Jill of Forest, MS; John C. Johnson and wife Sonda of Morton, MS; grand-daughters, Jana Johnson and Kara Beth Johnson both of Morton, MS; brother, Bob Tom Johnson and wife Ellen of Forest, MS; and sister-in-law, Linda Lackey Shelton of Jackson, MS.
Visitation will be held at Wolf Funeral Services in Morton, MS Friday, January 25, 2013 from 4:30 until 8:00 pm, and at First Baptist Church of Morton, MS Saturday, January 26, 2013 from 9:00 until 9:55 am. Funeral services will be at First Baptist Church on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 10:00 am with burial following in the Pulaski Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Fred Johnson, David Hollingsworth, Herman Thompson, Jay Johnson, Jack Hollingsworth, Reggie Robertson, Percy Parker, Bennett Merchant, and Danny Rushing. Honorary pallbearers will be the 1960 State Champion Hancock North Central basketball team, Deacons of First Baptist Church of Morton, Men's Sunday School Class of First Baptist Church, Administrative Board of Scott Regional Hospital, Leon Tadlock, Jack Taylor and Billy Steadman
In lieu of flowers, the family request contributions to be made to the First Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 110, Morton, MS 39117.
You may leave a condolence or light a memory candle by visiting our website at www.wolffuneralservices.com.
Published in Clarion Ledger on Jan. 23, 2013