In Memoriam: William L. Johnson
Bill "Hickey" Johnson died June 29, 2002, in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 84. Bill Johnson was born May 27, 1918, in Atlanta and graduated from Washington High School and Tuskegee Institute School of Photography. After serving in the US Army, he returned to Atlanta and managed the Bailey Theaters in Atlanta and Gaston, Alabama, for several years. In 1953 he was hired by Lockheed Aircraft in Marietta as an industrial photographer. Prior to his retirement from Lockheed in 1980, he received the MEA Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Atlanta Employer's Voluntary Employment Association Task Force on Youth Motivation. He was an active member of the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
More than thirty years ago he became the first black member of the Azalea Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society after being introduced to rhododendrons at a show in Atlanta. "They must have thought I was stupid or something the way I stood there and stared at those rhododendrons," he later told a newspaper reporter. Bill became an active member of the Azalea Chapter and was a blue ribbon winner for both for his rhododendrons and the photographs he took of them. His garden was home to more than 100 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas, and he was a volunteer worker at the Atlanta History Center garden. He received the Bronze Medal from the Azalea Chapter and regularly attended the Society's annual conventions with his wife, Clara, making friends with other ARS members coast to coast. At the conventions he liked to wear a baseball cap adorned with the pins of all the conventions he had attended.