F. Mitchell Johnson, a local leader in the securities and investment business — and a major force behind the development of the modern College of Charleston — died Wednesday morning. He was 90.
Johnson, whose name adorns the college's athletic facility, became the first elected trustee of the college in 1959 and served as president of its board from 1968 until the college joined the state's higher education system in 1970.
He also served on the State College Board of Trustees and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. Friends say the college was, after his family, his first love. He was active in the alumni association, athletics and growth of the college.
Theodore S. Stern, president of the College of Charleston between 1968 and 1978, called his longtime friend "a genuine gentleman and a great leader."
"He was very forceful and a major part of the rejuvenation of the college," Stern said. "I don't think it could have become a state institution without his support."
Johnson, a Charleston native, was born May 21, 1916, the son of Eugene Gaillard Johnson Jr. and Margaret Sams Mitchell. After attending local schools, he enrolled in the College of Charleston in the fall of 1933. He was a standout on the basketball team.
In 1937, Johnson graduated from the college with a degree in history and began working as a securities salesman.
He interrupted his career in investments to join the U.S. Navy as an ensign in the Naval Reserve in 1941. In 1943, he volunteered for sea duty and was assigned to the USS Windham Bay CVE.
In 1950, he joined Silcox and Johnson as a partner, then president. In 1960, he formed Johnson, Coleman, Manning and Smith and acted as president and chief executive officer. Later, he was senior partner in the state for J.C. Bradford and Co.
Johnson was a community leader in several aspects and served on a variety of boards and organizations. He was a member of the Yeamans Hall Club, the New England Society, the St. Andrew's Society and the St. Cecilia Society.
He served on the vestry of St. Philip's Episcopal Church and as commodore of the Charleston Yacht Club.
Arrangements, to be announced later, are being handled by J. Henry Stuhr Inc.