Andrew Jay Johnson III

September 27, 1933, June 02, 2019

Dr. Andrew J. Johnson

Dr. Andrew J. Johnson, a retired Professor of History and administrator of Lamar University died June 2, 2019. A native of Beaumont, he was the only son of his parents, Andrew J. Johnson Jr. and Lois Harper Johnson. He was born on September 27, 1933, attended public schools in Beaumont graduating from Beaumont High School in 1951 when he began his college studies at Lamar State College of Technology and transferred to The University of Texas graduating with High Honors in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and entered Indiana University where he received the Master of Arts degree in 1955. That year he began teaching at Schreiner Institute.

The same year Andrew and Betty Holmes, having dated from their days in high school married and moved to Bloomington Indiana where she began biological research at the university while he completed his graduate work on origins of the Contract Clause in the Federal Constitution. In the following nine years the couple continued to work together in what was resulted in the doctoral dissertation, "Life and Constitutional Thought of Nathan Dane".

In 1987 this work was selected to be part of the American Legal and Constitutional History Series of Outstanding Dissertations.

In 1955, with an M.A, degree in History, the Johnsons were going to accept a first teaching post in Orange, Texas, but a friendly assist from U T professor Robert Cotner nominated Andrew to the faculty of Schreiner Institute in Kerrville, Texas. In their first year at Schreiner, along with a new family and both teaching and dormitory supervision, the military cadets referred to "Mad Dog" Johnson who was looking for a university in which to pursue a doctorate. Again through the assistance of Professor Cotner he was awarded a generous grant from The Sothern Fellowship Foundation and went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for the fall term of 1956 along with support from Schreiner for a full summer teaching assignment as well as a leave of absence.

The experience of graduate study in Baltimore was recognized to be a mistake and the grant was surrendered in early December so the Johnsons could move back to Texas and return to Schreiner which generously took them in residence in a cottage called the "crystal palace" and Johnson was a recruitment and admissions officer. After this term working with the Registrar Fred Junkin, the Johnson family returned to Hoon Hall's newest apartment to which was soon added a Saint Bernard puppy, named Beauregard, who soon became a favorite mascot to many of the Schreiner cadets. Then at the end of the academic year the Johnsons returned to Beaumont where Betty and Laura spent the summer visiting with grandparents, while Andrew had a summer in graduate residence back in Bloomington, Indiana, starting on a different road to the doctorate.

In the fall of 1958, at the age of 24 Andrew Johnson and his family returned to Lamar and lived among other young faculty members in a duplex near the expanding campus. In the next ten years of teaching at Lamar the young instructor and his family made many friends among the Lamar faculty, completed the doctorate from Indiana University, served with Dr. Roger Yerick as faculty sponsor to the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and arranged with President F. L. McDonald for a leave of absence in the academic year of 1965-66 to enter the Graduate Library School at The University of Chicago to earn a second M. A. Then upon the retirement of Julia Plummer, Dr. Johnson was appointed University Librarian.

As Library Director, Dr. Johnson initiated a project to reclassify the library collection under the Library of Congress System and the expanding library soon had plans for was to be the John and Mary Gray Library. Also, the Johnsons spent summers in Austin where Dr. Johnson taught in the School of Library Science at The University of Texas. It was President Frank Thomas who asked Dr. Johnson to resign the selection to be the Librarian at A & M University and stay with Lamar as Academic Vice President in the summer of 1968.

That summer Professor Lloyd Cherry invited Andrew to membership in the Rotary Club of Beaumont. For the next half century, the service of the Rotary Club and its weekly Wednesday meeting was a regular part of the community life of the Johnson family. In 2020 Dr. Johnson was recognized for fifty years of perfect attendance in addition to his club service as historian of the published history in 2013.

In over thirty years of teaching and administrative leadership at Lamar State College of Technology and then Lamar University, Dr. Johnson served under six presidents: F.L. McDonald, Richard Setzer, Frank A. Thomas, John E. Gray, Robert C. Kemble, and Bill J. Franklin. As Director of Library Services, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vice President for Administration, Vice Administration and Planning, Executive Associate to the President, Vice President for Administration, Personnel, and Student Services, Acting President, Vice President for Student and University Affairs, and as Assistant to the Chancellor the official titles changed over the years as the University grew. Dr. Johnson completed two decadal Self Studies for the Sothern Association of Schools and Colleges. directed one EEOP and one NDEA Institute. In the decade of the 1970's, working with Dean Brock Brentlinger, Dr. Johnson organized and directed the University's Summer Travel Program which conducted classes in Rome and London. Dr. Johnson was an advocate of faculty and student travel abroad as part of a university education. As recent as 2014, Dr. Johnson and members of his family completed his 17th trip to Rome. Over the years, with his wife who achieved an outstanding career in Bio-Chemical research associated for over thirty years with UTMB the Johnsons traveled extensively, she more than he, to India, Tunis, Turkey and Tibet as well as two trips to China. Mrs. Johnson, on her own, made trips to North Africa, Central Europe and the Soviet Union in the 1990's.

In August of 1995, upon retirement from his academic positions of some forty years, Dr. Johnson took up a new career as "Nanny Andy" to his two grandsons spending his week days in Pearland, Texas, Even with a year of graduate residence in "grandfathering".

During his career years at Lamar Dr. Johnson worked with numerous organizations:

Beaumont Library Commission 1966-69

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Vestry 1967-73

All Saints Episcopal School Board for thirty-five years, Chairman 1974-75

Edison Plaza Museum Board 1985-89

Southeast Texas Arts Council Chairman 1989

Jefferson County Grand Jury Foreman 1981

Jefferson County Historical Commission 1976-89

The Moody Foundation, Galveston, Texas 1973-83

United Appeals of Beaumont -Budget and Admissions Committee 1970-88, Chairman 1974-75

Gulf Coast Historical Society Editorial Committee 1965-68,

                                                                        Vice President 1976-78

American Heart Association Beaumont Chapter Chairman 1971-72

Beaumont Sesquicentennial Committee - City Chairman 1984-86

Tyrrell Historical Library Association Chairman 2003-04

In the years since retirement from Lamar, Dr. Johnson continued community service in two areas: The board of The Edison Plaza Museum where he was a member for thirty years and also with the St. Mark's Thursday Morning Prayer Fellowship which he attended from 1998 into March of 2019.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Holmes Johnson; daughter, Dr. Laura Johnson Stafford, her husband Dr. Ben Stafford, and granddaughter, Dr. Lauren Stafford Richardson and her husband, Alex Richardson; daughter, Letitia Johnson Farnie and her husband, Dr. Mark Farnie and grandson, Robert Andrew Farnie and his partner, Patricia Thornton and great-granddaughter Micaela Farnie and great-grandson Theodore Richard Farnie and grandson, Jay Michael Farnie.

A gathering of Dr. Johnson’s family and friends will be from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Thursday, June 6, 2019, at Broussard's, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont. His funeral service will be 11:00 a.m., Friday, June 7, 2019, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 680 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, with his interment to follow at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Beaumont.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 680 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas 77701 or Lamar University's Mary and John Gray library at


Gathering of Family and Friends
Broussard's Mortuary - Major Dr.
1605 N. Major Drive Beaumont, TX 77713
Thursday, June 06, 2019
5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Funeral Service
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
680 Calder Avenue Beaumont, TX 77701
Friday, June 07, 2019
11:00 a.m.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
4955 Pine St Beaumont, TX 77703

Comments (7)

  • Jason Blake

    06 June 2019 at 21:47 | #

    Andrew and Betty have been one of my very long-time computer support clients who also became good friends of mine through the years. Andrew and Betty remain like pseudo-grandparents to me and I always look forward to hearing from them. Andrew was an exceptionally successful individual that left a massive impact on the world around him and was involved in so many different organizations. I will miss him.


  • Randy & Roy Hammerling

    06 June 2019 at 15:28 | #

    A great neighbor. Will miss seeing Snowball "pulling" him down the street.


  • Paula Bothe

    05 June 2019 at 18:58 | #

    What a wonderful friend he was! He was brilliant, witty, and great company. Attendance at Rotary wasn't the only place he reached perfection. I miss my friend. With deepest sympathy.... pb


  • Angela Downs Chesnutt

    05 June 2019 at 18:01 | #

    My thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Johson's family. Wishing you peace beyond understanding.


  • Carol Corbin

    05 June 2019 at 15:02 | #

    Dr. Johnson taught my first history classes at Lamar, the freshman surveys of Western civilization, in the summer of 1962. I enjoyed his sharp wit. Dr. Johnson referred to then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy as a "cultural priestess". .


  • Sarah Atwood Bardwell

    04 June 2019 at 18:38 | #

    My condolences to the Johnson family. I worked at Lamar in the Housing Office when Dr. Johnson was VP for Student Services. Always a gentleman and treated each of us in my office with respect. My prayers are with your family.


  • Jamie Farren

    04 June 2019 at 17:38 | #

    My family will keep yours in our prayers. You have our deepest condolences.


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