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One of Inquirer’s Photographers of the 1960s Fades Away

Robert Stephens (Bob) Johnson II
Father, Teacher, Soldier, Photographer
December 15, 1929 – April 13, 2020

Robert Stephens “Bob” Johnson II was born on December 15, 1929 in St. Petersburg, Florida and passed away on April 13, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. A graveside service was held at 12 noon, in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines and policies, at Lincoln Cemetery (Garden of Resurrection) in Atlanta, Georgia 30314. Murray Brothers Funeral Home (Cascade) of Atlanta handled the final arrangements.

His educational journey started at Davis Elementary School and later Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg. Once he graduated from Gibbs High, he attended Paine College in Augusta, Georgia earning a Bachelors in Natural Science in 1950. He also earned a Master’s Degree from Atlanta University (now, Clark Atlanta University) in 1960. Under grants from the National Science Foundation, he studied at the University of Georgia (UGA), Louisiana State University (LSU), and Florida State University (FSU).

Johnson’s early teaching career includes science teacher and basketball coach positions in Colquitt, Dawson, and Covington, Georgia. Later he became a teacher in the Atlanta Public School System for Luther Judson Price High School and Carver High School as a biology teacher. While at Price High, he served for some time as the science department chairperson. Upon retiring in 1991, he had served 36 years as a public school teacher. For a while he was also a biology teacher for the Fort McPherson division of Georgia Military College. The Georgia Science Teachers Association honored him with a lifetime membership.

His military career started in the United States Army as a member of the Organized Reserve Corp (Medical) in 1950 and ended with his retirement as a Sergeant Major with USAFISA (Department of Defense) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia as a Management Analyst. With the reactivation of Third U. S. Army, he served as Operation and Readiness Non-Commissioned Officer. SGM Johnson was the first Black to attain Sergeant Major status in the 81st ARCOM. He saw foreign duty in Korea, Japan, Somalia, and Jordan. Among his decorations are: The Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the United Nations Medal, Korean Service Medal with two Bronze/Battle Stars, and the NCO Professional Development Medal – Level Four.

He began his career in photography with The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper. He left there to become the first Black photographer with the Atlanta Bureau of the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) wire services. He covered a couple of National Political Conventions, NFL Super Bowls, and NBA Championship Games. His pictures have appeared in periodicals all around the world including Ebony and Jet magazines.

He had been an Episcopalian since 1947 when he was confirmed at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Augusta, Georgia. He transferred his membership to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia in 1957. While at St. Paul’s, he had served as an usher and a member of the Episcopal Men’s Club.

Flossie Johnson (nee Goodson) was his wife of 47 years until her death in 2002. She was an English teacher in most of the same schools as he, but ended up at Central Junior High, Washington High, West Fulton High, Sylvan High, and retired from Sylvan Middle School in the Atlanta Public School System. Upon Flossie’s retirement also in 1991, she had served 33 years as a public school teacher. Johnson is survived by their daughter, Dr. Courtney Johnson of Atlanta, who is a business teacher with the DeKalb County School District, and other relatives and friends throughout the United States.

Last updated on May 1, 2020

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