news-category: In Memoriam

Gardner-Webb Campus Remembers Jim Johnson, ‘Treasured Friend and Colleague’

Jim Johnson, 2006

Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Former Head Basketball Coach Passes Away on Sept. 6

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb University family is remembering one of its unique faculty members. Jim Johnson, assistant professor of mathematics passed away on Sept. 6, 2023, at the age of 76. He was unique, noted his friend and colleague, Bob Bass, because he began his career at Gardner-Webb as head basketball coach in 1990.

Then, after a successful five years as coach—which included a South Atlantic Conference regular season championship in 1992 and being named SAC Coach of the Year—Johnson joined the GWU faculty on a full-time basis.

“As a result of that interesting transition, he held a unique place in the GW family,” observed Bass, who has also worked alongside Johnson since 1995. “For years and years, everyone knew Jim because he had been the basketball coach; and everyone respected him because who they knew him to be. In some ways, I think he has been one of the most influential people on campus.”

Bass had the pleasure of seeing how Johnson interacted with everyone who came to his office. “Welcoming all those people through his office was just a part of the steady stream that made Jim’s small office in Withrow one of the fullest on campus,” Bass related. “He was incredibly generous with his time. Students were always welcome, and his office hours were the busiest I’ve observed—no doubt partly because he gave more tests than I’ve ever seen! Jim had an outstanding career at Gardner-Webb. And I have been blessed by having had his open, welcoming, busy office accessible—just about 20 feet down the hall from my own.”

Another faculty member, Tammy Hoyle, started teaching in the mathematics department the same year that Johnson started coaching. “Jim was a treasured friend, colleague, and brother in Christ to all of us in the math department,” shared Hoyle, assistant professor of mathematics. “His intense dedication to his work and his students was a great inspiration. Despite physical challenges in the latter years, he did something admirable—he showed up time and time again. In addition, his devotion to his family, church and to Jesus was an encouragement to me. There will be a great void in our department, our lives, and GWU.”

Gardner-Webb University April 2006

Johnson received his bachelors in mathematics from Furman University and his master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. Prior to Gardner-Webb, Johnson served as head basketball coach at Spartanburg Methodist Junior College for 11 seasons. He won five championships and was named coach of the year four times while he was there.

He served on various faculty committees at Gardner-Webb and was the director of the GW Math Academy from 2013 to 2021. Johnson was also actively involved in the community, volunteering as a lunch buddy and math tutor from 1997 to 2020 at Boiling Springs Elementary. He was an active member of Boiling Springs Rotary Club, holding the positions of president, secretary and sergeant-at-arms over the years. At Poplar Springs Baptist Church, he was a deacon, Sunday school teacher and church moderator.

He is survived by his wife Linda Kay, his daughters Carrie and Anna, and his son Craig.

Johnson’s funeral will be held Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. A celebration of life service will be at 2:30 p.m. at Poplar Springs Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Family Life Center of the church.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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