In Appreciation of the Life of Jeh Vincent Johnson:
I share my deepest and heartfelt sympathy with the family of Jeh Vincent Johnson.
In 1973, I'd been swinging a hammer and cutting grass for the two years since dropping out of college, when I decided to pursue architecture. Having applied to Rhode Island School of Design I was scheduled for an interview. Upon learning of this, Jeh's sister, Pat Clifford (my mother's best friend since they met as children at Camp Atwater), was determined to have me stop in Poughkeepsie (NY) to meet her brother, "the architect". The drive from Philly to Providence was long and I was happy to spend a couple of days with Jeh, his beautiful wife (Norma), sweet and lovely daughter (Marguerite), and destined for greatness son Jeh, along the way.
While there, I visited his firm's office, toured the city filled with his work, and sat in on one of his Vassar class lectures; developing a remarkable architectural vocabulary over the course of my stay. And then, I don't know if it was something that I said or something that I didn't say, but Jeh uttered twelve words that I would carry with me throughout my career as an architect, business owner, corporate and construction executive - there is something more important than designing "fat" houses for rich folks.
As I left the Johnson home, headed for RISD, I was sent off with a new motto, two packs of Pall Malls (it was after all 1973 and I'd finished my pack of Camels the night before), and the distinct sense that I would ace my interview - I did. For that and the wonderfully rewarding career that followed, I appreciate Jeh Johnson, his inspiring insight and encouragement.
Jeh was a great man in a family of great men and women. Rest in peace, dear friend...