Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr. remembered as ‘trailblazer’ in Iberville Parish

Staff Report

Friends are remembering Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr. as a trailblazer who made an impact in community service.

Funeral services were held May 13 for Johnson, father of current St. Gabriel Mayor Lionel Johnson Jr.

Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr.

He was pastor of St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Gabriel and former pastor of Greater Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Plaquemine.

He was the First Chief Administrative Deputy Sheriff in Iberville Parish, a post he took in 1972 under then-sheriff Jessel M. Ourso.

“He set the pace … he really was a good, kind man,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said. “He was cool, collective, well-dressed and took his position seriously.

“I respected him a lot, up to the day he died,” he said. “He represented the parish well.”

Johnson continued in that post after Ourso’s death in August 1978 when Freddie Pitre became sheriff. He served until his retirement in 2000.

“He always was a class act, and I don’t know how many young people he got in Southern University who ended up graduating and becoming productive attorneys in Iberville Parish,” Sheriff Brett Stassi said. “He did so much for so many people … just a steady force at the sheriff’s office.

“He was always a good person who took care of business at hand and made it easy for people who worked at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “He brought class to everything and made sure everything went smooth – and when you have hot-headed deputies, you need someone like Rev. Johnson, who had a good, calming influence.

He also served as the First Chairman and founding member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors, upon appointment by then-Gov. Edwin W. Edwards.

Johnson also served on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern University with a Major in English and Minor in History. He taught English in the East Feliciana School System from 1964 to 1972. 

Funeral services were held May 14 at First Mount Carmel Baptist Church. Rev. Raynell Madison, pastor, and Rev. Lionel Johnson Jr. officiated.

He was survived by his wife, Evelyn Johnson; daughters, Michelle Abram, Lucretia Johnson, Alisa Jackson, Latedra Johnson, Kiera Johnson and Lacelia (Terry) Hudson; sons, Lionel Jr., Anwar (Leslie) Johnson, Chadrick (Myia) Johnson and Chaudwick Williams; brother, Charles (Barbara) Johnson; grandchildren; great grandchildren; nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.