BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Baton Rouge is mourning the passing of the first chairman of the Southern University System Board.

Southern University announced Monday that Rev. Lionel Johnson Sr., died Thursday, April 28. 

According to the news release, Johnson will lie in state Friday, May 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. 

Funeral services will be held Saturday, May 14 at First Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in St. Gabriel, with a viewing from 8 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and the funeral beginning at 11 a.m. 

Burial will be at the Heavenly Gates Mausoleum in Baton Rouge.

After graduating from Southern University and A&M College, Johnson was appointed to the Southern University System Board by then-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1974. He was elected as chairman and remained in this position for a decade. 

Johnson’s career was prolific.

In addition to serving on Southern University System’s Board, he was also chief administrative deputy of the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and became president of the Iberville Coalition of Black Peace Officers. 

He was also a founding member and president of the East Iberville Community Complex Incorporated, which is now the site of the current St. Gabriel City Hall. 

Johnson was also an English teacher for eight years in East Feliciana Parish and a pastor for more than 36 years at three churches — Third Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Sunshine, Louisiana; St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Gabriel, Louisiana; and Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church in Plaquemine, Louisiana.

The current President of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University and A&M College, Ray L. Belton, issued a statement regarding Johnson’s death, saying:

“The Southern University System family extends our condolences and prayers to Rev. Johnson’s family, former colleagues, and others who knew him well. Rev. Johnson’s service to our institutions was part of a great trajectory, forming Southern into the first system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation. He was the epitome of a servant-leader not only for Southern but also for his community. While his physical presence will be missed by many, his contributions will live on through countless more for years to come.”