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Charles Edward Johnson, 78

April 01, 2012
  • Charles Edward Johnson
Charles Edward Johnson

Charles Edward Johnson, 78, of Hagerstown, Md., went to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, March 30, 2012, at Meritus Medical Center.

Born July 22, 1933, in Hagerstown, he was the son of the late Maurice Needy and Helen Irene (Schmidt) Johnson Sr.

He graduated from Hagerstown High School, Class of 1951. Charles graduated in 1953 from Hagerstown Junior College, went on to Shepherd College, graduating in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts in social studies. In 1964, Charles obtained a master’s degree in political science from Shippensburg State College. In 1971, Charles was one of 16 selected by the Kettering Foundation to serve a doctoral fellowship for the Program for Administration of Educational Technology at the University of Maryland.

Charles and his identical twin brother, Maurice N. Johnson, enlisted in the U.S. Army, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Jackson, S.C. While at Fort Jackson, he was an expert with the M1 rifle, achieving best marksman in his training battalion. He continued his training in the prestigious U.S. Army Public and Troop Information School at Fort Slocum, N.Y. Charles and his brother were assigned to the headquarters of the Arkansas Military District, serving as information specialist. They were assigned to handle media relations during the 1957 “Little Rock 9” school desegregation crisis, in which the 101st played an active part. He spent three years in Little Rock, achieving four promotions to Sergeant E6.

After the Army, Charles took a job with the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation as the assistant director of public relations and safety. He presented a weekly television show for the bureau operating out of Memphis, Tenn.

Charles spent 17 years in the Washington County school system as a television writer and instructor, classroom teacher and administrator. He started his teaching career at Boonsboro High School, and later the old Washington Street Junior High.

While working in the school system, Charles had many accomplishments. He wrote a project that received full funding from the federal government, and as chief coordinator of the Student Oriented Classroom Project (Title III), receiving national recognition. He also did consulting work for the New York State educational system to assist them with Title III funding.

Charles served as the student consultant to the University of Maryland committee to revise student course offerings and requirements, and as a member of the Maryland Governors Conference on Higher Education. He worked on behalf of educators in Washington County through his work as president and longtime member of the Washington County Teachers Association, chairman of the Maryland State Teachers Association Committee on By-laws, and co-chairman of the Professional Standards Committee and Teacher Education. Charles was a member of the National Education Association. Throughout his career in education, Charles traveled extensively in order to gain firsthand experiences with a variety of teaching and learning situations, and used these experiences and tools where they mattered most — in the classroom.

In 1973, Charles became the first director of the Western Maryland Vocational Resource Center. He later directed the grants and allocations program for the Tri-County Council of Western Maryland. He also taught history at Allegany and Fort Hill high schools. Charles also taught at Allegany Community College and at the Shepherd University Graduate School.

After his retirement from more than 30 years in education, Charles attended Wesley Seminary. He became a minister in the Methodist church, serving the United Methodist churches at Piney Planes and Catawba in Hancock, Md., and later as senior minister at Potomac Park United Methodist Church. After suffering an aneurism in November 1990, Charles retired from the ministry, moving back to Hagerstown to be closer to his family. 

When he was 5 years old, and together with his twin brother, Charles began what would be his lifelong love of singing when they performed in the a cappella boy’s choir at the Presbyterian Church in Hagerstown. He and his brother continued to sing in choirs while in Little Rock, and Charles would continue singing in various church choirs in Hagerstown. 

Charles was an active member of Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown, serving as first president and an organizer of a chapter of the United Methodist Men. Prior to moving to Cumberland, Md., Charles was an elder and chairman of the congregation at First Christian Church.

His active work with the Optimist Club included serving as president of the Hagerstown Club, and vice president of the Cumberland chapter. Hagerstown Community College presented Charles and his twin brother, Maurice, with its annual Award for Outstanding Achievement and Worthwhile Contribution to Community Life.

He is survived by his daughters, Julie Wagener of New Market, Md., Laurie Bender of Hagerstown and Catina Femi of Monroe, N.C.; son, Charles E. Johnson Jr. of Bensalem, Pa.; five grandchildren — to whom he was a patient, devoted and loving granddaddy — Marisa Bender of Stafford, Va., Joseph Bender, Elizabeth Bender and Matthew Bender, all of Hagerstown, and Allison Johnson of Bensalem, Pa.  He is also survived by his sister, Dorothy Wagoner of Upper St. Clair, Pa.; brother, Kenneth Johnson of Brighton, Colo.; and by nieces and nephews.

Charles was preceded in death by his identical twin brother, Maurice N. Johnson Jr.

A memorial service will be conducted at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at Rest Haven Funeral Chapel, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown, with the Rev. Stephen D. Robison officiating. Friends will be received one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Inurnment will be private and held at the convenience of the family in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to Otterbein United Methodist Church, 108 E. Franklin St., Hagerstown, MD 21740; or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or www.stjude.org.

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