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Campus memorial service planned for Tom Johnson

Thomas Cole Johnson, a longtime faculty member in Emory’s physical education and athletic departments, former soccer coach and administrator, will be remembered this weekend at a campus memorial service.

Johnson, who died Sept. 16 at the age of 78, spent his teaching career at Emory University, where he served as chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Dance for seven years. He was appointed professor emeritus shortly after his retirement in 2010.

A memorial service is planned on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m. in Cannon Chapel. A reception will follow immediately downstairs in Brooks Common.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Johnson came to Emory in 1962 to pursue a M.Ed. degree in health and physical education and remained with the school throughout his career. In 1972, he earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Georgia and was promoted to the rank of full professor at Emory in 1999.

Johnson’s passion was coaching. He was named head men’s soccer coach at Emory in 1965 and continued to run the program for 22 years, directing the Eagles to an overall record of 200-110-30, with many of those victories earned against NCAA Division I and II schools, as well as NAIA programs.

His 1984 team was Emory’s first to receive a bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, and the Eagles also received another postseason nod the following campaign. He directed the team in its inaugural season of University Athletic Association play in 1987.

Johnson was named the Southern Region Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1984. In 1993, he was inducted into the Emory Sports Hall of Fame.

With a commitment to encouraging young athletes, Johnson also directed Emory’s sports fitness camps from 1986-1999 and was instrumental in the growth of youth soccer in the Atlanta area.

“Tom Johnson may have been one of the most competitive guys I have known," says John Curtin, Emory's head cross country and track and field coach. “It didn’t matter if it was one of his team’s soccer matches or his weekly tennis match with faculty friends, Tom always played to win.”

“Tom just loved sport, all sports,” Curtin says. “It was his life.”

The family invites donations to the Mercer University Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund, 1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, Georgia 31207, or to Emory's Sonny Carter Scholarship Fund, 1762 Clifton Road NE, Suite 2400, Atlanta, Georgia 30322. 

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