Remembering George Johnson

Remembering George Johnson

November 20, 2020
Category: News
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An African American man in a dark blue suit with a purple tie speaking and interacting with adults in an auditorium classroom.

George R. Johnson, NCCJ’s board chair, died on Sunday, November 15, after a long battle with cancer.

We mourn our dear friend, cherishing his memory and celebrating his remarkable legacy.

George and his wife Linda have long been close friends and supporters to NCCJ.

George has been a member of our board of directors since 2015, serving on our Dinner Cabinet and our Honoree Selection Committee. At the time of his death he was serving as chair of the most diverse board of directors in NCCJ’s history.

We feel his loss keenly. Just last Wednesday, George joined us at our first-ever virtual Citation Award event. Physically distant but together with us all in community and in shared mission, George joined us at this virtual event to reaffirm our shared commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to celebrate and honor remarkable leaders for their dedication to making our community a better place for all of us to call home.

NCCJ’s 2020 Citation Award event is dedicated to the memory of George Johnson. We will forever be grateful for George’s friendship, guidance and leadership.

Watch the video below to hear firsthand from George about the diversity of NCCJ’s board of directors and why it matters for our organization and the people we serve.


Here are a few of the many memories of George that our staff and board members have shared this week:


“Sad and surreal. We were all together just this past Wednesday evening with George at the helm. George was such a tremendous role model and friend. My heart is grieving. I am praying for strength for Linda and his family.”


“I was devastated when I heard the news yesterday. He was a phenomenal human being. I actually heard it first from my son, a 2L student at Elon School of Law.  He posted George’s picture with 1951-2020, along with “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time) on his Instagram story.  It says quite a bit about George that he made such an impact on a law student who had him for only one course. Like many of us, I didn’t know George was fighting illness.  He always seemed so vibrant during our board and executive committee meetings. I am honored I got to know him even a little bit.  He will be dearly missed.”


“Shocking and sad. I had no idea George was so ill, leading our last Zoom meeting just a few weeks ago. A true servant leader to the end.”


“He would take the time for his treatment and then he was right back out there like he had a cold.  Until the very end he was still giving, still showing up, still not letting that illness infuse its way onto other people.  That is so unbelievable and admirable that that’s who he was. When I think of George, think statesman, deep thinker, quiet influencer. He had a very deep smile through his eyes.  I remember being able to really connect in a warm and kind way through the intensity of his eyes.  I will miss that.”


“I remember being nervous about leading committee meetings when I first joined the NCCJ team several years ago, because so many of our committee members are well-known community members with these impressive titles. I knew George was dean of Elon’s law school and I guess I was expecting someone intimidating. But then George came strolling in for the meeting and he was so calm, so humble and just so approachable. In four years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be anything other than calm and kind.”


“He was such an unpretentious man and he had so much to be pretentious about.  He was just such an unpretentious, kind, wonderful soul.”


“There were times [during board meetings] when I thought he was dozing off and then he would come out with some incredible insight like he was just quietly thinking. I really appreciated that, [him] just being so thoughtful and deliberative.”


“He was always so serious and quiet and thoughtful whenever I was around him.  I never knew he had such a sense of humor until we were practicing his introductory speech for the dinner.  Every time he delivered the line about the local restaurants stepping up to the plate ‘and yes… the pun was intended,’ I about lost it and wanted to laugh out loud.  Not at the line itself, but his delivery of the line.  I’m surprised we got through a few good takes as quickly as we did.”


“George was an amazing man whose absence will be felt by so many.  How blessed were we that he was here to give testimony to NCCJs importance. Love to Linda and everyone who emulates him!”


Last but certainly not least, our virtual board meetings just won’t be the same without George. As one NCCJ team member reflected, “we’ll miss watching him disappear into his virtual backgrounds during Zoom meetings.”


We will miss George in so many ways, big and small.