Carol Denise Johnson was born to Phillip Johnson, Sr. and Ruth James in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on August 6, 1956. Carol received her formal education in Florence Public Schools, starting with North Vista Elementary. Following the deaths of both her parents, Carol began to assume the matriarch role of the Johnson family. At her Grandma Chizzie’s side, Carol helped take responsibility for her three beloved brothers and would be responsible for paying the bills, grocery shopping, maintaining the property, and overseeing her brothers’ education.
Just as her mother, Carol was a star basketball player for the girls’ varsity team. During her formative years, Carol would develop close relationships with her family on the Johnson side to include her aunts and uncles: Rosalie Wingate, Mary Vanier, Joan McManus, Walter Johnson, Albert Johnson, and Carolyn Johnson. In fact, Aunt Carolyn flew to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to help take care of Carol at birth. The Johnson’s would also come together to sponsor her 1973 Debutant Ball. Carol would graduate in the class of 1974 from dear old Wilson High.
She went on to graduate magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Business from South Carolina State University, where she pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in 1976. She also obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of New Haven. After college, Carol started her first job at AT&T, where she remained for her entire 40-plus-year career.
In her final position, as the Director, Executive Response & Vendor Strategy, at AT&T, her team members became an extension of her family. She loved leading teams in Europe and Puerto Rico, and was always willing to join adventures with her team members, including hunting, white water rafting, and extensive travel. Her leadership, beauty, and business savviness were truly unmatched and recognized out the gate. Carol has helped raise and donate money towards political aspirations in hopes to benefit the African American community and even personally met former President Barack Obama.
For 47 years, she was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. serving as president of two CT graduate chapters: Theta Epsilon Omega and Tau Xi Omega. She served as Chairwoman of the finance and fundraising committees. Furthermore, she has supported the education of countless youth in her immediate and extended family.
Carol has dedicated her life to her family helping raise her two nieces: Chizzie Denise Johnson and Philesha Carol Johnson. She would also go on to help raise “her Boo” Phillip Odom. Carol annually hosted large Christmas gatherings, the Santa Claus to all in attendance. She also organized Johnson family reunions all over the world, including in Spain, France, and England. A supporter of the James Family Reunions, Carol contributed to the establishment of the James family marker, as well as ensuring a new generation of the James family youth were able to attend reunions in Jamestown, SC. After the passing of her grandmother, Chizzie James, in 1991, Carol’s home became the new focal point in which the family could gather and love and grow together.
Carol is preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and Phillip Johnson; her aunts, Edna Mae "Sister" James, Martha James Whack, Mary James Scott, Rosalie Wingate, and Joan McManus; uncle, Walter Johnson, Sr.; and her cousin-brother, Randolph Phillips. Left to cherish her memory are her brothers, Eldeen Johnson (Jackie), Walter Johnson (Carolyn), and Phillip Johnson; sister, Hattie Cain-Smith; cousins, Edmund "Buck" James (Lois), Gregory Phillips, Helen “Penni” Scott, Justin James (Toni), Marcus Phillips (Demeria), Stuart Willoughby, and Shanna James (Frank); nephews, Shamon Johnson (Rebecca) and DeAndre Johnson; special nieces, Dionne P. Morse (Joel), Chizzie Denise Johnson, and Philesha Carol Johnson; her only godson, Vernon Henley; grandnephews and grandnieces; and a host of family, cousins, and lifelong friends.
Please keep the family of Carol Denise Johnson in your thoughts and prayers.