James accepted the Lord as his Savior at an early age uniting with St. Luke Baptist Church in Monroe. His early education was received in the public schools of Ouachita Parish. A natural leader, James served as junior class president and senior class president. He graduated from Carroll High School in 1960.
James attended Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He loved mathematics and decided to pursue a degree in his “passion.” He changed his major to Education and graduated from his beloved Southern University in 1964.
In 1963 while pursuing his degree at Southern, James met a delightful perky young lady from New Orleans. On Christmas Day 1965, Mamie Marcelle Parker became Mrs. Mamie Parker Johnson. They were blessed with two boys: Reginald James and Royce DeWayne.
After graduating from Southern in 1964 James began his career as an educator at his alma mater, Carroll High School. However, in August of 1965, he moved to a little town north of Monroe, Bastrop, where he was hired to teach mathematics at Morehouse High School.
James, however, decided that he wanted to pursue another degree. In 1969, he graduated from Northeast Louisiana State College (now University of Louisiana at Monroe), earning a Master of Education degree in Administration and Supervision. He also earned 30 additional hours from Northeast. James was a charter member of Northeast’s chapter of the prestigious Phi Delta Kappa, a professional fraternity in education.
In 1969, James was appointed assistant principal of Delta High School in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, where he served admirably for eleven years. He served as the assistant principal of Bastrop Junior High-East Campus for one year. Then, in 1980, he was named principal of Mer Rouge Elementary School, where he served for seventeen years. Prior to his retirement in January 1998 he served as principal of Bonita Elementary School in Bonita, Louisiana.
James was extremely active in professional associations: the former Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the Louisiana Education Association (LEA). He also served as president of the Morehouse Education Association. He was active with the state and national elementary principal associations, often attending national conferences and serving on state wide committees.
After James and Mamie moved to Bastrop, they united with St. Mary C.M.E. Temple. They loved the Lord and St. Mary was an integral part of their family life. James served as a Trustee, a member of the Steward Board, and a Sunday school teacher. He also served as church treasurer and Sunday school superintendent. In 2010, James was appointed Sunday school superintendent for the Monroe District where he coordinated the District’s annual Sunday school convention and provided leadership to Sunday schools in twenty-one C.M.E. churches in northeast Louisiana.
James’ passion for service manifested in his commitment to Fidelity Lodge #53, F. & A. M., P.H.A. where he was a Past Master and a former District Deputy Grand Master. With the Grand Court Heroines of Jericho, he was a Past Grand Most Worthy Joshua for the state of Louisiana. He served as High Priest for Providence Chapter #46, Holy Royal Arch Masons, P.H.A. He was member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Melverna Donald #61 and Past Potentate of Jomadi Temple #171, A.E.A.O.N.M.S. Shriners, Inc. He frequently attended meetings on the state and national levels.
Page 2 of 2 - In the 1980’s James noticed the need for a scouting experience for African-American males in Bastrop and he initiated the establishment of a Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop. He served as Scoutmaster.
As Life Members of the Southern University Alumni Federation, they encouraged many Morehouse Parish students to attend Southern as well as assisting in raising funds for scholarships. James was a former president of the Bastrop/Morehouse Southern University Alumni Chapter and regularly attended the national alumni conference. Under his leadership, the Bastrop/Morehouse Chapter received Outstanding Chapter Award for several years at the national alumni conference and was recognized as one the leading alumni chapters in the nation. He was member of the Southern University Quarterback Club and travelled regularly to Jaguar football games. James was also one of the founding members and Past President of “Club 21” Men’s Club of Bastrop, Louisiana.
James departed this life on January 14, 2013. He is preceded in death by his wife, Mamie Marcelle Parker Johnson. He leaves to cherish his memory, his guidance, and his love: two sons, Reginald James and Royce DeWayne; three grandchildren, Miles Laurence Johnson of Austin, Texas, Marcellus DeWayne Johnson and Madison Zene Haydel of New Orleans, Louisiana; three brothers, Willie Johnson, Jr. of Dallas, Texas, Joseph Johnson (Danute’) of Folsom, California, Ricky Johnson of Monroe, Louisiana; four sisters, Lula Mae Reed, Beverly Batiste, and Gloria Jean Reed, all of Los Angeles, California, and Margaret Johnson of Monroe, Louisiana; one aunt, Ida Mae Ealy of Oakland, California; one uncle Marcus Jones of Monroe, Louisiana; cousins-in-law, William Bigbee (Linda) of Atlanta, Georgia, Jana Clark Nero (Lloyd) of Zachary, Louisiana, and Barbara Sneed (Felton) of Shreveport, Louisiana. He is also survived by his two goddaughters, Jayme Clay of New Orleans, Louisiana and Krystal Bradford of Monroe, Louisiana, and a host of cousins, nieces and nephews.