Cover photo for Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr.'s Obituary
Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr. Profile Photo
1931 Joseph 2022

Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr.

December 12, 1931 — August 4, 2022

Abingdon, VA – Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr., age 90, the gentleman from Hayter’s Gap, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, August 4, 2022 at his home in Abingdon, Va. He was born in Hayter’s Gap, Va. on December 12, 1931 to the late Joseph Pickett Johnson, Sr. and Gray Henderson Johnson.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wonderful, loving wife of 64 years, Mary “Ann” Allison Johnson; sister Pauline Goodman; brother Kermit Johnson; and brother-in-law Walter Litwin.

Joe was a lifelong resident of Washington County, Virginia, an active member of his community and church, a lifelong advocate for education and the interests of young people and senior citizens and served in the Virginia General Assembly as Delegate from the 4th Legislative District for 28 years.

Joe practiced law in Abingdon beginning in August, 1960 until his retirement in 2020. For eighteen years he served as Substitute Judge for the Twenty-Eighth General District Court, which serves the City of Bristol, Smyth County and Washington County. Johnson is a former president of the Washington County Bar Association, a member of the Virginia State Bar and a former member of the Virginia Bar Association.

Joe was an active and faithful member of Abingdon Baptist Church for more than 45 years. He was a Sunday school teacher and served on the Council of Deacons for many years.

He served during the Korean Conflict as a member of United States Air Force from 1951 – 1955. He participated in Operation Castle 1953-1954 Eniwetok, testing of the Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb. He served as Trustee on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation Board and was a past chairman of the Board. He was a member of American Legion Post #12, Abingdon, for more than 50 years and served as Post Commander. He served as a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol. He was honored during the 2021 annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at Abingdon’s Veterans Memorial Park.

Joe was made a Kentucky Colonel in 1984. He was past president of the Washington County Red Cross and former chairman of the County Crusade. He served on the Highlands Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board and the Board of Community Residential Facilities, Inc., which serves Bristol and Washington Counties. He served as Chairman of Washington County Cancer Crusade. Also, he served on the Washington County Service Authority. Johnson was named Man of the Year in 1967 by the Abingdon Jaycees. In 1994, he received the first Ernest S. Yeatts Service Award from the Virginia Department for the Aging for his outstanding contributions to the well-being of the older citizens of Southwestern Virginia. He received an Emory & Henry Charter Day Citation on March 22, 2001. He received the Legislator of the Year Award in 2003 from the Virginia Treasurer’s Association. He received one of the original Arthur Campbell Fellows Awards from the Town of Abingdon on February 8, 2011. He received the Blacks Fort Chapter, NSDAR – 2013 – Outstanding Veteran Award in 2013. On May 4, 2013, Emory & Henry conferred upon him an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. On September 30, 2013, the Virginia School Boards Association awarded him the VSBA Legislative Award of Excellence. Appalachian Independence Center awarded him the 2013 Jim Meadows Award. On the 75th Anniversary of the Barter Theatre, he was recognized with a star as a “Barter Advocate” for his support in the Virginia General Assembly. He was honored by being named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Abingdon Rotary Club.

He was a member of the Abingdon Civitans, past Master of Abingdon Masonic Lodge #48 and 50 year member of Kazim Shriners, a charter member and past Worthy Patron of Abingdon Chapter #182 Order of Eastern Star, and a member of McCabe Lodge #56 Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

He was a graduate of Emory and Henry College and the T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond. He served on the Board of Trustees of Emory and Henry College and served for many years as Chairman of the Board. He was a charter member of the Board of Trustees of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and served as Chairman in different years. In December 2009, the Trustees of the Center named the Grand Hall the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Grand Hall. He was one of the original Directors of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation and continued to serve until his death.

He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1965 and re-elected in 1967. He served on the House Police and Militia Committee and was a ranking member of the Roads Committee and the Insurance and Banking Committee. Johnson did not seek re-election in 1969 in order to help his wife, Ann, raise their three children, Mary Jo, Joe III, and Sage.

After a twenty-year absence, he returned to the House of Delegates in 1989 and was re-elected each two years thereafter without opposition. His committee assignments included Finance, Courts of Justice, Commerce and Labor, and Rules. He served on numerous subcommittee and study commissions.

He was an original member of the Virginia Tobacco Commission from the beginning of the Commission. At different times he served as chairman of the Agribusiness Committee. He served on the Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation Board and Trustee on the Center for Rural Virginia. Also, he has been a member of the Washington County Extension Leadership Council for many years.

On November 14, 2013, Dr. Ron Proffitt announced that the Virginia Highlands Community College established the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship and named the College Board Room the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Board Room to recognize Johnson for his 28 years of support in the Virginia House of Delegates for the Community College System. On March 12, 2014, the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. and Dom-I-Necher Fraternity Endowed Scholarship was established to award scholarships to students who exemplify the qualities of service to others which have characterized the career of Johnson in the political and public arenas.

At the Virginia Highlands Community College Commencement on Friday, May 15, 2015, Dr. Gene C. Couch, Jr., President, conferred on him an Honorary Degree of Associate of Humane Letters from the State Board of Community Colleges and Virginia Highlands Community College.

The Washington County Board of Supervisors adopted a Resolution on the 22nd day of October 2013 that Delegate Johnson’s birthday, December 12, shall be and is hereafter deemed to be acknowledged as “Delegate Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr. Day” in honor of Delegate Johnson’s many years of service to the County and the region, and as a public expression of gratitude to Delegate Johnson and his family.

The 9th District Democratic Committee adopted a Resolution Commending the Service of Delegate Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. for his 28 years in the Virginia General Assembly. House Joint Resolution No. 430, Commending the Honorable Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr., Agreed to by the House of Delegates, March 5, 2014, Agreed to by the Senate, March 7, 2014.
Joe was honored by Congressman Morgan Griffith, 9th Congressional District, who read into the Congressional Record of the United States House of Representatives a tribute for Johnson’s 28 years of service in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Joe loved God and his family. He dedicated his entire life to serving God, his family, his community and country. He reminded everyone he encountered how much God had blessed him and his family. He always gave credit to the many, many people who helped him along the way throughout his life and made it possible for him to give back to his community. He sincerely got so much joy from helping others and did so quietly, not wanting to draw attention to himself. He loved to attend sporting events of his children and grandchildren and traveled many places, near and far, to support them. He was the absolute best father, grandfather, and great-grandfather always giving the best advice, the dearest “I love you’s,” and the reminder that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

During Joe’s battle with cancer, he constantly thanked his family and caregivers for giving him the best health care possible. The family would like to thank Caris Health Care, specifically, Lindsey Davidson, Lindsey Hogston, Raissa Hatfield, and Robin Coleman. Much love and thanks to his precious private caregivers Maria Hash and Savannah Thomas.

He is survived by his daughter, Mary Jo Neal and husband Lewis of Abingdon; sons Joseph P. Johnson, III and wife Kim of Charleston, SC; Judge Sage Brannon Johnson and wife Bethany of Abingdon; six grandchildren: Mary Lewis Huffman and husband, Chad; Ashley Brooke Hemmer and husband, Peter; Mary Catherine Clark and husband, Justin; Joseph Zachary Johnson and wife, Gracin; Finn Alexander Johnson; and William Pickett Johnson; three great grandchildren, Emma Grace Clark, Isley Ann Clark and Joseph Beckett Johnson; brother James S. Johnson and wife Diana of Abingdon; sister Louise Litwin of Abingdon; and special nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends on Friday, August 12, 2022 from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM at the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Grand Hall of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center on the Virginia Highlands Community College campus, 1 Partnership Circle, Abingdon, VA 24210.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 11:00 AM at Abingdon Baptist Church with Pastor Bill Bryan and Mr. Richard Foil officiating.

Interment will follow at Knollkreg Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be grandsons, Zack Johnson, Finn Johnson, and Pickett Johnson; and nephews Bobby Goodman, Mark Goodman, Vincent Goodman, John Litwin, Paul Johnson, and Phillip Johnson. Honorary Pallbearers will be Judge Charles “Chip” Smith, Dr. Fred Gent, III, Mark Graham, Charles W. Henderson, David Matlock, Wayne Guffey, Fred Parker, Al Martin, Dr. Charles Sydnor, Dr. Rachel Fowlkes, and members of the Denton Foil Sunday School Class.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Virginia Highlands Community College Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship fund or the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr and Dom-I-Necher Fraternity Endowed Scholarship fund at Emory & Henry College.

Those wishing to share memories and express sympathy online may do so by visiting and signing the online guest register.

The family of Joseph Pickett Johnson, Jr. is being cared for by Farris Funeral Service and Crematory, 427 East Main Street, Abingdon, VA 24210, (276) 623-2700.

To view the livestream service, visit

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, August 12, 2022

4:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center

One Partnership Circle, Abingdon, VA 2410

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Funeral Service

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Abingdon Baptist Church

361 W. Main St, Abingdon, VA 24210

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