The Passing of Jeh V. Johnson

January 29, 2021

Dear all,

It is with great sorrow that I must announce the passing of Jeh Vincent Johnson, who taught architectural design in the Art Department at Vassar for 37 years, from 1964 to 2001. Professor Johnson also designed many buildings on our campus, including the ALANA Center and the Susan Stein Shiva Theater. He was renowned as a thoughtful designer and an inspirational teacher—and his influence extended far beyond our gates.

As a pioneering Black architect, he was a strong and tireless champion of women and people of color in architecture, a field where they were and continue to be underrepresented. He co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects, served on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Commission on Urban Problems, and chaired the National Committee on Housing for the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He was elected to the AIA’s College of Fellows, the highest honor for any practicing American architect, and was awarded a special citation from the New York chapter of the AIA for his advocacy on behalf of equal opportunity and housing issues.

Professor Johnson earned his A.B and M.Arch degrees from Columbia University; after graduate school, he received the William Kinne Fellows Fellowship, enabling him to travel throughout Europe studying architecture. He ultimately ran his own firm based in Wappingers Falls, Gindele and Johnson, and designed or refurbished many local landmarks, including the Poughkeepsie Day School, YMCA, Beulah Baptist Church, and Catharine Street Center and Library. From 1980 to 1990, he co-founded the partnership of LeGendre, Johnson and McNeil Architects.

The Vassar community extends our deepest sympathies to his wife, Norma Edelin Johnson, his son, Jeh Charles Johnson, his daughter in law, Susan DiMarco and his grandchildren, Jeh C. Johnson Jr. and Natalie Marguerite Johnson. His daughter Marguerite Marie Johnson passed away in 2020 after an active life of community service.

I know everyone at Vassar joins me in mourning the loss of our beloved colleague and a giant in his field. Jeh believed in the power of architecture as a positive influence in all of our lives and that a life well-lived included a deep commitment to both family and community. He was an exceptional example for all of us in the Vassar community.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604