By: Beth Volpert | Gwinnett Citizen
L. C. Johnson (Left), Gwinnett County resident, donates much of his time to help others and has been a father figure to many. Pictured is L.C. Johnson (L) with Major Glenn Fite (R), retired Salvation Army Officer.

“My dad was not only a great provider growing up,” says Daryl Keith Johnson, “He gave me lots of inspiration, knowledge, and support. I was really grateful for that.”

L.C. and Gracie Johnson's son, Daryl, is an actor and model who says that a strong work ethic helped him get to where he is today.L.C. and Gracie Johnson's son, Daryl, is an actor and model who says that a strong work ethic helped him get to where he is today.Daryl, now an actor living in LA was very animated in his descriptions of his father. Memories of growing up as “an Air Force Brat” seemed to cement the relationship between Daryl and his parents. “We tried to make sure each time we moved, that our house became a home very quickly,” says L.C. Johnson. But Johnson never stopped at the threshold of his own door when it came to setting a good example for the youth of his communities.

L.C. Johnson always made certain to find a way to leave each neighborhood and community a little stronger than when he arrived. Tough love, hard work and a listening ear are just some of the qualities that describe a man with a long career of volunteerism everywhere his life took him. 

While L.C. Johnson is technically called “father” to one adult son, his fatherly instincts reach beyond his doorstep and take him out into the community almost every day. At 77 years old, L.C. is still active in a variety of community service organizations that reach out to those within our area who have a vast array of needs.

All of the work L.C. aligns himself with can be traced to a desire to stabilize communities and make all residents feel that they are empowered to have an impact on the neighborhoods that surround them. 

“One of the highlights of my worship each Sunday is greeting L. C. Johnson,” says John Edmund Haggai of the Haggai Institute. “L.C. Johnson is 77 years old and still active.” Still active is certainly an understatement where Mr. Johnson is concerned. It seems that he has something to do and somewhere to go almost every day.

The community certainly benefits from his work in everything from the Gwinnett County Development Authority to the Atlanta Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Mr. Johnson is a vital part of the crucial role of volunteer. Without them, society as we know it would look vastly different. At 77, the experience alone is priceless and this man offers his expertise for the very affordable price of… free.

Currently, L.C. Johnson serves on the Development Authority of Gwinnett County, but his range of experiences also include time establishing the Boys and Girls Club in Sacramento, CA, taking a troubled school and remaking it into a safe and community-friendly destination as principal before he moved on to become an area superintendent and a vast array of other “fatherly” roles as counselor, role model, fundraiser and tremendous other important jobs for which the pay is entirely intrinsic. 

Captain Andy Miller of the Salvation Army in Lawrenceville says of L.C. Johnson, “I certainly agree that L.C. exhibits a fatherly compassion toward everyone in the community. I have seen him approach the poorest and the wealthiest people in Gwinnett County with the same loving smile that says, ‘I'm here for you.’” The Salvation Army is thankful to have his friendship and encouragement for their community work. “I know he is doing the same for people all over this county, says Miller. “I have heard people call him an unofficial mayor, unofficial father, unofficial grandfather, unofficial CEO, but I say he is officially a man extending his heart to God and his hand to man [or humanity].”

L.C. and Gracie Johnson at one of many benefits they have attended over their years of volunteer service to their communities.Being named by your fellow community service colleagues as an “unofficial” father/grandfather is an honor that takes broad shoulders and a steady pace to absorb. On any given day, L.C. Johnson can be found smiling a genuine smile, shaking hands, patting backs and exchanging hugs. All of the activities that have been a part of shaping the man he has become began with his upbringing and continued into his military and education careers. “I think that parents need to spend more quality time in schools working with and supporting the people who educate our children,” says L.C. “As an administrator, I felt like it was necessary to facilitate good communication between the stakeholders in a community. I still believe that.” As one of those stakeholders, L.C. works daily in deed and in prayer for those who lead Gwinnett County in growth and opportunity. 

Gwinnett County District 2 Commissioner, Lynette Howard, served with L.C. when she was President of United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA). L.C. was director on the board. “He was and still is a master at bringing people together to work on making the community stronger,” says Lynette. “He started the use of door prizes at our general meetings to encourage more people to come listen to important information on issues that would affect our community.” She goes on to add, “I am so glad to call L.C. my friend.”

As a parent, L.C. says that his best advice is something he hears often, but doesn’t always see enough. “Have a real relationship with your children,” says L.C. “Know what they are doing and with whom.” He goes on to advise that supervision is important, but knowing how to balance proper guidance with providing experiences is something a parent has to learn to do. “Have a meal every day, or as often as you can with your kids,” says L.C. “Carry on conversations about current events, politics, religion and anything they find interesting.”

L.C. reliving some of his days with the Boy Scouts, Boy's & Girl's Clubs and a variety of other youth service organizations.
As far as retirement (another retirement) is concerned, L.C. Johnson hasn’t kept retired very well. At 77 he compares his life with his mother who lived to be 102. “I have something to look forward to!”

As long as L. C. Johnson is involved in Gwinnett County, then the community can look forward to a man, a father figure, committed to changing the way neighbors see one another. He sees that many of our local societal challenges could be solved if all parties came to the table ready to talk solutions and keep egos in check. “There is so much good that can be done and the naysayers have nothing to gain by not participating in a positive manner to make our community safe and strong.” L.C. 

Johnson’s experiences cannot be adequately described. He has touched thousands of lives by just doing the right thing. “I feel that you must have a certain amount of faith in something, in yourself, and in the hereafter as well as another being, says L.C. “I believe that success comes from giving back to the community.”