Alderson-Rev. Dr. James Benson Johnson, 82, formerly of Fairmont, passed away Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, VA.
Born May 2, 1933, to the late Rev. Dr. Randolph F. and Jeannette Price Johnson in the family home near Williamstown, WV, his early years were spent in Philadelphia, PA, Hurricane and Alderson where he completed high school. He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. Upon graduation in 1955 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He and Josephine Elizabeth Parker of Alderson were wed and he embarked on a career in the Air Force as a tactical fighter pilot, instructor pilot and Senior Military Training Officer.
Feeling a call to ministry, he completed graduate degrees at Crozer Theological Seminary and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as doctoral studies at Colgate Rochester Divinity School and West Virginia University. In 1966 he was called to the First Baptist Church of Fairmont, where he served for 29 years.
A leader in the community and his denomination, he served as President of the Greater Fairmont Council of Churches, the Rotary Club of Fairmont, the WV Baptist Foundation for Campus Ministry, the WV Baptist Convention, the WV Baptist Historical Society, and was chosen by the American Baptist Churches in the USA to serve during 1998 and 1999 as its 73rd President. In 1981 Alderson-Broaddus honored him in the conferral of an honorary Doctor of Divinity.
He is survived by: his wife of 60 years, Josephine P. Johnson of Alderson; daughter, Cathy Johnson Graham and husband R. Neal Graham of Richmond, VA; son, James B. Johnson II and wife Elaine Coates Johnson of Arlington, VA; four grandchildren, Caitlin O’Dwyer of Richmond, VA, Jennifer Lyne Johnson of San Francisco, CA, Tyler Neal Graham of Newport News, VA and Kellie Elizabeth Johnson of Arlington, VA; brother, Randolph Johnson and wife Susan Johnson of Monroe County; two sisters, Joanne Frazier and husband Clifton Frazier of Union and Carolyn Dixon of Bedford, VA; and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church, Alderson. Burial followed at the Alderson Cemetery, Alderson.