Forrest Clark Johnson, III

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, March 24, 2022

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Forrest Clark Johnson, III, passed away on March 22, 2022. A private family graveside service will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the Historic Hillview Cemetery in LaGrange. A public memorial service will be held on Friday, March 25, 2022 at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church of LaGrange. The family will greet friends at a reception in Wesley Hall following the service.

Forrest Clark Johnson, III, born Jan. 1, 1950, is a native and ninth generation resident of Troup County and a fourteenth generation Georgian. Born to Forrest Johnson, Jr. and Memory (née Sutherland) Johnson, Clark’s love of history and his hometown began early on the front porches of his neighbors.

By age thirteen, he began collecting information from the elderly residents of what is now the Broad Street Historic District. Johnson followed his passion for history and attended the University of Georgia, earning a BA in history with a major in European History, minors in African History and Latin American History, and a certificate in African American Studies.

He studied Art History and Italian at Universita per Stranieri (University for Foreigners) in Perugia, Italy. He continued his studies at the University of West Georgia, earning a MA in History with a thesis on his home titled, History of LaGrange, Georgia 1828-1900.

Johnson returned to his high school alma mater, Troup County Comprehensive High School, to teach history. He taught both regular sections and advanced placement American and World History, Ethnic Studies, and a local history course called Heritage Education.

Throughout the 31 years Johnson taught school, he also sponsored the Key Club, during which time the club cleaned a number of historic cemeteries and collected volumes that were donated to the Troup County Archives.

Johnson also taught evening classes at LaGrange College where he helped create a scholarship in memory of his father.

His belief in higher education led he and his wife to donating to the Pearl White Potts Scholarship at LaGrange College and to the Hunnicutt Scholarship at the University of Georgia.

He was a founding member of the Troup County Historical Society in 1972 and has spent his lifetime supporting it. In 1989, he began working at the Archives, becoming a full-time employee in 2005, helping researchers with local history and genealogy, curating several exhibits, and researching and writing several books for the society.

He was instrumental in the fundraising, creation, and curation of Legacy Museum on Main’s permanent gallery. He served as Interim Executive Director of Troup County Historical Society, Archives, and Legacy Museum from July 2015 to December 2016.

In 1990, he was appointed the official Troup County Historian by the Troup County Board of Commissioners. The author of 17 books on local history and genealogy, he edited a number of other works including Dot Moore’s Oracle of the Ages and No Remorse, Sue Pearson’s The Nancies, and several volumes for Dr. Harold Lawrence.

His expertise was recorded in three national Public Broadcasting System documentaries and he wrote for a number of magazines and quarterly publications.

He served as the president of the LaGrange Chapter Sons of the American Revolution and served two terms as Georgia State Registrar. In 1992, Johnson became the Church Historian of his home church, First United Methodist Church of LaGrange.

An active member of over seventy years, he served in many other capacities from acolyte to Sunday School Superintendent.

He also served as pianist at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, where he began playing in 1974. Johnson’s love of music led he and his wife to contribute to the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. He served on the LSO board of directors for 15 years, after which he was named an emeritus member. Johnson was a founding member and served six years on the Advisory Board of Hills & Dales Estate for Fuller E. Callaway Foundation.

He helped open the historic estate and gardens to the public and contributed his historical expertise to the exhibits in the Visitor’s Center. Johnson was a member of Rotary Club of LaGrange with over forty-four years of perfect attendance. He served as Bulletin Editor for 35 of those years. He was Club President in 2001-2002, and was a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, a Will Watt Fellow, and Walter Murphy Fellow.

He and his wife are members of the LaGrange Art Museum, and he was a charter member of the Lafayette Alliance.

Johnson is survived by his wife, Deborah Ferguson Johnson, their three children, Jessica Leigh Johnson Moorhead (Daniel Brooks Moorhead, II); Forrest Clark Johnson, IV (Shannon O’Gwynn Gavin); and Christian Ferguson Sutherland Dunson Johnson (Megan Skye Coody); six grandchildren, Hardy O’Gwynn Johnson; Geneva Grace “Eva” Moorhead; Daniel Brooks Moorhead, III; Forrest Clark “Gunner” Johnson, V; Margo Sutherland Johnson; and Shepherd Woods Johnson. He is also survived by his two sisters, Memory Dunson “Dee” Johnson Wallace, Rebecca Randall Johnson Watts, one brother, Thomas Sutherland Johnson, and countless nieces, nephews, cousins, and other distant relatives who were as close to him as any of the others. 

Higgins Funeral Home at Hunter Allen Myhand, (706) 884-5626.