Harry James Johnson Dies at 81

Harry James Johnson

Mr. Harry James Johnson, also known as “Coach J,” gained his angel’s wings, moving from his earthly home to his heavenly home on Wednesday, Feb. 12. He was 81.

He was born on July 12, 1938, in Danville, Va., the son of the late Westmoreland Johnson and Catherine Slade Johnson Lenhardt. He served his country, completing a tour of duty in the Panama Canal Zone and in Vietnam, while serving in the United States Army. He received his formal education in the Danville Public School system and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Virginia State College and a master’s degree in school administration from the University of Virginia.

Harry taught for 32 years in the Danville Public School System before retiring in 1996. During those years, he served as a teacher, mentor, coach and father figure to hundreds of boys and girls. He coached organized youth sports in the community and coached high school football and basketball. His great joy was coaching at the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal basketball camps and numerous college basketball camps in the summer. He also served as an assistant principal at George Washington High School.

Harry was a faithful member of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Blairs, Va. until his health declined. He was active in the Deacons, Trustee, Music, Mission’s and Bus Ministries, Bible Study and Sunday School. He loved to share his favorite scripture, 1 Corinthians 13th chapter. Harry was a board member of the Salvation Army, a member of the Danville Kiwanis Club, Advisory Board of the Boys and Girls Club, the DCC Foundation, Hughes Foundation, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and other community organizations.

He leaves to treasure his memories, his wife of 56 years, Lois Gaynell Fitz Johnson; a devoted son, Christopher Anthony Johnson of Danville, Va.; Gabrielle Ashiya Johnson (daddy’s girl) of Graham, N.C.; sister, Denise Lenhart Benoit of St. Croix, Virgin Islands; brother, Ricky Lenhart of Danville, Va.; a devoted aunt, Martha Green of Danville, Va.; Steve Stamps (an adoptive son); along with several nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by two sisters: Catherine Johnson and Jean Johnson Lynn.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, at Oak Grove Baptist Church, Blairs, Va., with the Rev. Reginald Carter, eulogist. Interment, with military honors by American Legion Post 29, will follow in Floral Hills Memory Gardens.

Family visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, at Fisher and Watkins Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Oak Grove Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 57, Blairs, VA 24527. Fisher and Watkins Funeral Home is assisting the Johnson family.

Support the VI Source

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall - we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. Our sites are more popular than ever, but advertising revenues are falling - so you can see why we could use your help. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. If everybody who appreciates our reporting efforts were to help fund it for as little as $1, our future would be much more secure. Thanks in advance for your support!