Joseph Johnson

Joseph Ronald Johnson, historian, woodworker, musician, avid reader, man of God, proud grandpa, loving husband and father, died on May 21, 2012 at age 57, after a long battle with cancer.


Mr. Johnson was born on Oct. 24, 1954, the son of the late Joseph E. Johnson and Mary Elizabeth McIntyre Johnson of Titusville, PA. He was the oldest of five children, Johnson, Tim, David, Susie, and Becky.

Mr. Johnson received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Music History and Composition from Old Dominion University, after serving in the United States Navy. He went on to complete a Masters in the History of Musical Instruments from the University of South Dakota and began working towards his Doctorate in Education.  Mr. Johnson was the first Curator of Education at the National Music Museum in Vermillion South Dakota for 11 years. He then moved to Macon, GA to be the founding Curator of Music and Popular Culture at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He had the self-described "fun-job" of contacting musicians, collecting materials, such as costumes, instruments, sound recording, photographs, sheet music and memorabilia covering all genres of Georgia music for the GMHF archives. It was his honor and privilege to be able to help preserve Georgia music history. He was a wealth of knowledge and loved to discuss history, particularly music history and musical instruments. Those who knew him best would say his love of music was "infectious."

Mr. Johnson was not only a lover of music but also a musician himself. Over his life he wrote many songs from scripture, praising God.  One in particular, titled, "My Soul Finds Rest," written from Psalm 62, is very fitting for describing his trust in God alone for his hope and salvation. Mr. Johnson was an active member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Milledgeville, GA.

Mr. Johnson was a member of various professional organizations within the musical field, such as the Guild of American Luthiers as well being a 2009 inductee into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. His professional contributions range from books, television and other various other publications throughout the years. In 2006 he was honored by Fred and Dinah Gretsch of the Gretsch Foundation with the Joseph R. Johnson Scholarship, to benefit a graduate student in public history or museum studies at West Georgia College.

Mr. Johnson was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Lois E. Johnson, and children, Sarah Keller, Katie Dempster, and Zachary Johnson. The joys of his life were his four lovely grandchildren, Ripley, Henry, Evie and Bruce. He found it great fun to get down on the floor and play with his grandchildren. His faith and love for family and friends was always evident to those who knew him.

The family would like to thank all of the wonderful staff of the Medical Center of Central Georgia for their excellent care and kindness during his extended illness. His many doctors are to be praised for their valiant and compassionate efforts to find a cure that would extend his life. A special thanks to Dr. Frederick Schnell and Dr. Amy Langston.

The Johnson family will be holding a public memorial service for Mr. Johnson on June 16, 2012 at 5 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Milledgeville GA, 440 North Columbia Street.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Joseph R. Johnson Scholarship at West Georgia College, Caner Life Center at Medical Center of Central Georgia,, or National Music Museum.

Friends may sign the online register at

Hart's Mortuary and Crematory, Macon, GA has charge of arrangements.

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