Lawton C. Johnson

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Lawton Corbin Johnson, Jr.
Lawton Johnson Summit MS jeh.jpg
Summit's Middle School was named in honor of Lawton C. Johnson
Born(1937-08-06)August 6, 1937
DiedSeptember 14, 2009(2009-09-14) (aged 72)
Alma materSummit High School
OccupationEducation administration

Lawton Corbin Johnson, Jr. (August 6, 1937 – September 14, 2009) was a New Jersey-based educator and administrator notable for his hard work,[1] devotion to excellence and long term of service at the Summit Public Schools.[2] During 47 years, he never missed one day of work.[2] In 2004,[3] the middle school was named "Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School" in his honor.[2][4]


Johnson was born in Summit, New Jersey and studied piano under instructor Capitola Dickerson.[5] Right after graduation from Summit High School, he began working at what was then called Summit Junior high school, rising to office manager, and continued working until retiring in August 2007.[4] While a student, he was part-time office assistant from 1954 through 1956; after graduation, he became school secretary in 1956.[6] In 1962 he became Office Manager. During his 52+ year career he worked for six school superintendents: Roberts Reed, Roland Wolcott (interim), William Purcell, Robert Salisbury, Richard Fiander, and Michael Knowlton, and six Summit Middle School principals: Robert Woodward, Charles Kemper, Donald DeBanico, Joseph Czarnecki, Gerard Murphy, and Theodore Stanik.[6] He did extensive volunteer work for numerous school-related committees, events planning groups, YMCA boards, communications groups, civic groups, newspaper editing, and other charitable activities.[6] He was elected Young Man of the Year in 1961 by Summit Area Junior Chamber of Commerce and he was named in the 1965 edition of Outstanding Young Men in America.[6]

Johnson was known for his "positive attitude" and "friendly demeanor" and "willingness to go the extra mile to help someone in need of assistance" according to Summit Middle School principal Matt Block in 2009.[4] "No favor was too great, and no task was too small ... He embodied dedication and hard work by being the first one to arrive to school each morning and the last one to go home each evening, sometimes working through the weekend, if necessary, in order to get the job done. Amazingly, for 47 of his 52 years, Mr. Johnson did not miss one day of work."[1][4] Johnson received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Keeper of the Dream Award and the Tri-City Branch NAACP Community Service Award.[7] In October 2007, Summit Mayor Jordan Glatt proclaimed Oct. 2, 2007, as Lawton C. Johnson Appreciation Day in recognition of his years of outstanding service to the city, the middle school and to the church.[7]

In 2004, the Summit Board of Education decided to rename the middle school in Johnson's honor.[5]

Former Summit middle school principal Ted Stanik said one of Johnson's great joys after the school's renaming was answering the phone, "Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School. This is Lawton C. Johnson," Stanik said, "It brought a smile to his face every time he did it."[2] Most of Summit's schools are named after founding fathers. The middle school's renaming was a first for the city—an honor never before given an employee.[2]

Johnson was described as a "gifted, remarkable, compassionate and uniquely talented person," according to Reverend Denison D. Harrield, Jr., who first approached the Summit Board of Education with the idea of renaming the middle school after Johnson.[2] "He touched the lives of so many people."[2] He died on September 14, 2009, after a long struggle with cancer.[8]


  1. ^ a b Erin O'Neill (September 17, 2009). "A pillar of education is recalled in Summit". NEWARK STAR-LEDGER. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Thomas Meagher (September 16, 2009). "Summit mourns death of Lawton C. Johnson, namesake of town's middle school". Newark Star-Ledger & Local New Jersey News. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  3. ^ "NJ Schools Welcome South African Educators". GSE Rutgers Graduate School of Education. October 15, 2005. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  4. ^ a b c d Michael P. Kelly (September 15, 2009). "Summit schools, community mourn the passing of Lawton C. Johnson". Independent Press. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  5. ^ a b "Summit Middle School Renamed in Honor of Lawton C. Johnson". Interloc -- Union County Education Association. April 2004. Archived from the original on January 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  6. ^ a b c d "Lawton Story". Summit Public Schools. 2009-09-27. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  7. ^ a b "Lawton C. Johnson, Jr". New Jersey Obituaries. September 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-27.[dead link]
  8. ^ Summit Public Schools (2009-09-16). "Summit Schools, Community Mourn the Passing of Lawton C. Johnson". The Retrieved 2009-09-27.

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