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Victor S. Johnson Jr.

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JOHNSON, JR., Victor S. Age 91 years. January 19, 2008. Mr. Johnson was Chairman and Director Emeritus of Aladdin Industries LLC prior to his retirement in 1985. Surviving Mr. Johnson are his wife, Nancy McKisson Johnson; son, Victor S. (Torry) Johnson (Mary Leyden); daughter, Christine J. Tyler (Neil); granddaughters, Emily, Caroline and Anne Laurence Johnson; grandsons, Sam and Patrick Tyler; nieces and nephews. Mr. Johnson was born in Chicago, IL, June 12, 1916. He received his BA degree from Amherst College in 1938 and earned his law degree from Yale University in 1941. During his lifetime, he was awarded honorary degrees from Amherst College, Hamilton College and Meharry Medical College. Upon graduation from law school, he served in the Judge Advocate General's office, rising to the rank of Captain. After his father's sudden death in 1943, Mr. Johnson assumed the role of interim president of the Mantle Lamp Company of America, the company his father founded in 1908 to provide superior kerosene lighting to rural America. Upon completing his military obligation in 1946, Mr. Johnson entered the family business on a full time basis at its headquarters in Chicago. In 1949, he decided to move both the executive offices and the manufacturing facilities to a newly constructed plant in Nashville. Later named Aladdin Industries, he led the company as its Chairman and CEO for the next thirty-five years. Under his leadership, the company expanded its business interests from kerosene lamps to thermos bottles, school lunch boxes, electronic components, food service systems and real estate development. Aladdin became one of the city's largest privately held businesses and sold its products world-wide. Mr. Johnson was a familiar sight on the plant floor as he frequently walked the facility to talk individually with employees. Mr. Johnson cared deeply for his adopted home of Nashville where he became active in a number of significant civic activities. He served as the president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce in 1956 and spearheaded the design and construction of a new downtown Chamber headquarters. Later he was a member of the Metropolitan Charter Commission for Nashville and Davidson County from 1957-58 and 1961-62 and was active in the campaign that resulted in the adoption of a metropolitan form of government for the city and the county. He was particularly proud of his service to Meharry Medical College where he joined the Board of Trustees and became that body's Chairman in 1955 and served in that position until 1983, when he was elected a life member of the Board. In addition, he was a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Nashville Branch, from 1958 until 1964 and was its Chairman in 1962. He also was a member of the Board of Trustees for George Peabody College for Teachers, and was on the Board of Directors of Tennessee Natural Gas Lines and later, Piedmont Natural Gas Company. Mr. Johnson was widely admired for his vision and foresight. In 1971 he became a partner in a massive real estate development project to convert an eight hundred fifty acre floodplain just north of Nashville's central business district into one of the city's premier business parks knows as MetroCenter. Additionally, he was an influential force behind the idea to create the Tennessee Performing Arts Center where he served on the Board of Directors of its foundation and received the organization's Applause Award in 1985. He is also credited with proposing to then Governor Ned McWherter that the State of Tennessee acquire land north of the State capitol for what later became the Tennessee Bicentennial Mall. Over the years, Mr. Johnson was involved with United Way, the Nashville Committee on Foreign Relations, the Atlanta Regional Panel of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, and the Tennessee Historical Commission to name a few. In addition, he was a member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Nashville Roundtable, the Zodiac Club and Belle Meade Country Club. He was a long-time member, deacon and elder of First Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Meharry Medical College or the charity of your choice. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at First Presbyterian Church, 4815 Franklin Road. Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. prior to the service.

Published in The Tennessean on Jan. 21, 2008
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