Wilbur Johnson Sr.

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, February 25, 2016

Services for Wilbur Johnson Sr. were held Wednesday, Feb.17, 2016 at 11 a.m. at Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church, Fowlstown, Ga. With Rev. John D. Thomas Sr. officiating. Interment followed at Pine Grove Burial Aid Society Cemetery at Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church. Active Pallbearers were Deacon Johnny Bouie, Mr. Alonzo Burney, Mr. Larry Carroll, Mr. Frank Chandler, Jr., Deacon Charles Mullins, Deacon Sam Stubbs, and honorary pallbearers were  the Deacons of the First Flint River Missionary Baptist Association

Wilbur Johnson, Sr. was born in Decatur County, Georgia in the Fowlstown Community on March 19, 1919 to the late Mr. B. B. Johnson and Mrs. Linnie Edwards Johnson. His two older sisters preceded him in death. He started elementary school at Pine Grove, when the parents hired a teacher and reopened the school after it was discontinued by the Decatur County School System. In the fourth grade, he transferred to Union Normal and graduated in 1934 at age fifteen.

He attended Central City College in Macon, a junior college operated by the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, graduating in 1936. Afterwards, he served as an elementary school principal in Iron City, Georgia for two years.

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He attended Georgia State College (now Savannah State University) and graduated with honors with a B.S. Degree in Agricultural Education in 1941. He then served as a junior high school principal for two years, and then as an agriculture teacher until 1943 when he was notified that he would receive no more deferments and would be drafted.

In 1944, he entered the army as a private at Fort Benning, Georgia. He applied for Officer Candidate School (OCS) and was accepted, while serving in Louisiana, in November 1944. He returned to Fort Benning for OCS, and in March 1945, he became a 2nd Lieutenant. During WWII, he served in Italy for two years as a replacement officer, first for the 92nd Division and later as a guard of prisoners of war. He was separated from the service in 1947 and promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He remained in the Infantry Reserves until 1952.

He returned to Decatur County first as an instructor in the Veterans Farm Training Program and later as the agriculture teacher at West Bainbridge Junior High and Brinson Vocational High Schools.  In 1951, he left to attend Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, where he received a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Education in 1952.  He returned to Decatur County and resumed teaching at West Bainbridge and Brinson until 1954 when these two schools were closed, and he was transferred to Hutto High School as vocational agriculture teacher, where he worked from 1954 to 1956.

In 1956, he was hired by the State Department of Education as an Area Adult Teacher of Vocational Agriculture, the first Black Area Teacher in Georgia. He helped teachers of vocational agriculture to improve their skills in agricultural mechanics, including electrical wiring.  He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1984. In this position, he developed enough skills to become a licensed electrical contractor, and he continued working as an electrical contractor after retirement. At the time of his death, his license was still active.

In 1971, he was one of the first two African Americans to be appointed to the Decatur County Board of Education, and he served in this position until 1975. Other civic activities included service on the Bainbridge Tree Committee, Decatur County Planning Commission and Review Board, grand jury, Decatur County Tax Equalization Board, and Decatur County Construction Industry Board of Licensing, Adjustments and Appeals.

He accepted CHRIST at an early age, was baptized, and united with Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church, where he served as a Deacon, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Sunday School Teacher. He served as Treasurer of the First Flint River Missionary Baptist Association and became Treasurer Emeritus. He also served as Chairman of the Association’s Scholarship Committee and founded the Association’s Scholarship Foundation, which has raised over $100,000 and is working on the second $100,000. He was honored by his Church and the Association for his years of dedicated service.

He was a member of the American Legion and had served as Chair of the Americanism Committee, District Chairman of the Oratorical Contest, and Vice Chairman of the Oratorical Contest for the Department of Georgia.  In 1998, he was honored by American Legion Post #502 for fifty years of American Legion Service.



After retirement from teaching in 1984, he received the American Farmer’s Degree, which is the highest degree a person can receive in the Future Farmers of America organization. He was also honored with the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association Outstanding Service Award. In 2000, he was inducted as a Charter Member, along with forty-five other Charter Members, of the newly established Georgia Agricultural Education Hall of Fame located at the University of Georgia. The Hall of Fame is dedicated to outstanding agriculture educators who have devoted their professional careers to providing the youths and adults of Georgia with instruction in Agriculture.

He was united in Holy Matrimony to the former Miss Arie Gilbert in August 1953. They were married for fifty-seven years until her death. To this union were born two children. He departed this earthly life on Tuesday morning, February 9, 2016.

He leaves to celebrate his life and cherish his memory his devoted daughter Susan of East Point, Ga.; son Wilbur Jr. (Sigrid) of Burke, Va.; grandson Jared Johnson of Arlington; granddaughter Ariana Johnson of Burke, Va.; nephew Earnest Tyler (Mary), niece Addie Ruth Jackson, both of Fowlstown, and nephew Danny Jackson (Evette) of Mesquite, Texas; great nieces Sonja Noble, Linnie Tyler, both of Bainbridge, Evelyn Herring , Sharon Jackson, both of Fowlstown, and great nephews Ronnie Tyler of Bainbridge,  Michael Tyler of Albany, Ga., and Joseph Tyler of Richmond, Va.; cousins Barbara Akins and Jean Romaine, both of Tallahassee, Fla., Dorothy Jackson (Jesse) of Memphis, Tenn., and U.J. Johnson (Thelma) of Winter Haven, Fla.; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Guyton Brothers Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.