Mrs. Catherine E. Johnson Dies

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The late Catherine E. Johnson

– Great Granddaughter of Elijah Johnson, Aunt of former Public Works Minister Gabriel Johnson Tucker

The death is announced of Mrs. Catherine Ellen Johnson, daughter of Mr. Gabriel Johnson, granddaughter of Liberian President Hilary Richard Wright Johnson and great granddaughter of the eminent Liberian pioneer, Elijah Johnson.

This sad event occurred last Friday, January 12, 2018 at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, Monrovia, following a period of illness.

She was in her 98th year.

Her father was Gabriel Johnson, son of President Hilary Richard Wright Johnson, 11th President of Liberia (1884-92) and the first Liberian-born President. Gabriel Johnson’s father was Elijah Johnson (1787-1849), a former officer of the United States Navy and one of the first repatriated Liberians and leader of the Colony of Liberia during 1822.

Mrs. Catherine Whisnant Johnson was born on May 10, 1920 on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia. The family owned most of the property which now headquarters the three branches of the Liberian government—the Legislature (Capitol Building), the Executive (the Executive Mansion, seat of the Liberian Presidency) and the Judiciary (the Temple of Justice).  It was after the Johnson family that Camp Johnson Road was named.

Mrs. Johnson, an indefatigable and fast-walking ‘old ma,’ was still very active in business up to the time of her death. Close family members and friends said the old lady was still leasing out and buying property weeks before her death.

The matriarch of the Johnson family, she was the last surviving offspring of Gabriel Johnson’s children. Among them were Fred Johnson; Hilary Johnson; Angeline Johnson; Mrs. Rachel Massaquoi, widow of the eminent Grand Cape Mount-born Momolu Massaquoi, patriarch of most of Liberia’s Massaquois and  former Consul General to Hamburg from 1922-30;  Collinette Johnson, mother of Gabriel Phillips; Sarah Kennedy, mother of Ambassador James A. Morgan, Chief of Protocol under President W.V.S. Tubman; and Mrs. Danielette Johnson Tucker.

Ambassador Morgan fathered many children, including Jimmy, Jr., a high tech expert who devoted much of his time taking care of his aunt, Old Lady Catherine Ellen Johnson.

Her sister, Mrs. Danielette Johnson Tucker, who spent her life working for the Monrovia Post Office, was the mother of several outstanding children and grandchildren. Her children included Counselor Mrs. Leona Chesson, among whose children is Counselor Yvette Chesson Wureh, an eminent Liberian lawyer and head of Liberia’s Angie Brooks International Center.

Danielette Johnson Tucker’s children also included John Payne Tucker, former Deputy Director of Police; Danielette Johnson Tucker, Liberia’s second female accountant and former Accountant General of the Republic (Department of the Treasury-now Ministry of Finance); and Gabriel Johnson Tucker, a renowned civil engineer and Minister of Public Works under President W.R. Tolbert, Jr. The bridge across the Mesurado River is named for Minister Tucker.

Accountant General Tucker was married to the famous Thomas (Tommy) W. Bernard, founder of Yes Taxi Company, who first introduced taxi cabs into the country in the mid-1950s. To that union several children were born: Dr. Leona Pushu Bernard, Director General of the Civil Service of Liberia; former Montserrado Senator Archie Bernard, now a United Nations staff, who in the 1970s and 80s successfully ran his father’s business following Tommy’s death; and Thelma Bernard, who helped her former husband, Charles T.O. King III, establish the Liberia Finance and Trust Company (LFTC) on Broad Street, Monrovia.

Mrs. Catherine Ellen Johnson was married to Mr. Lloyd Whisnant, and to this union a daughter, Mrs. Vera Whisnant Farrell, was born. Veda, who over the weekend flew in for her mother’s funeral, is married, lives and works in the United Kingdom. She is the mother of two Farrell young men.

According to Dr. Puchu Leona Bernard, PhD., grandniece of the deceased, the funeral of Mrs. Catherine Ellen Johnson is scheduled to take place at Trinity Cathedral on Friday, January 19, 2018, beginning at 10 o’clock a.m.

The body will be removed from the Samuel Stryker Funeral Parlor at 4 o’clock p.m. on Thursday, January 18 and taken to Trinity Cathedral for wake keeping.

Burial will take place at the Kaiser Memorial Cemetery in Brewerville.

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