Lanny Johnson

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Neal Lane "Lanny" Johnson, Sr.

Louisiana State Representative
for District 20 (Franklin
and Tensas parishes)
In office
Preceded by Lantz Womack
Succeeded by Glen L. Williams

Born December 7, 1940
Ouachita Parish, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Carol Virginia Shipp Johnson
Children Neal Johnson, Jr.

Taylor Lance Johnson

Alma mater Ouachita Parish High School

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Occupation Educator
Religion Southern Baptist

Neal Lane Johnson, Sr., known as Lanny Johnson (born December 7, 1940), is an American former school superintendent. His last assignment, from which he retired on December 20, 2019, was in Winnsboro in Franklin Parish in northeastern Louisiana.[1]

Johnson served a single term as a Democrat in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1976 to 1980.[2] Previously, he was the superintendent in two other school districts, Tensas and Ouachita parishes.


A native of Ouachita Parish, Johnson graduated from Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe. At eighteen, he began playing basketball at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then Northeast Louisiana State College, under coach Lenny Fant, who became a close friend and often supplied Johnson with humorous anecdotes for use in political speeches.[3]

Johnson was ULM's first All-American.[4] He led the Warhawks, formerly the Indians, to a 17–8 record in 1961–1962 and to their first Gulf South Conference championship. In 1962, Johnson made both the Associated Press and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics listings. Johnson led the GSC in scoring for his last two seasons at ULM. He produced eight 30-point games and concluded his career with ULM's all-time scoring record with 1,366 points.[5]

In 1982, Johnson was inducted into the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame for his 1958–1962 seasons at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.[6]

Political years

Johnson filled the District 20 state House seat vacated by Lantz Womack, a banker and farmer from Winnsboro, who ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana state agriculture commissioner in the first-ever nonpartisan blanket primary held in Louisiana on November 1, 1975.[7] In the legislative race, Johnson defeated a fellow Democrat, Joe Morse "Bobo" Gravelle (1931-2007) of Winnsboro, a petroleum marketer and banking director, the former director of the North Delta Regional Planning Commission. and at the time of the election a member of the Franklin Parish Police Jury, the parish governing body. Johnson received 5,362 votes (55.2 percent); Gravelle, 4,380 (44.8 percent).[8]

Four years later, Johnson ran unsuccessfully in the primary for the state Senate. The victor in the 1979 senatorial general election was his state House colleague, Daniel Wesley "Dan" Richey, Sr., then of Ferriday in Concordia Parish, a Democrat[9] who years later switched to Republican affiliation. Richey defeated Mary Lou Trawick Winters (1935-2014) of Columbia in Caldwell Parish, then the Democratic National Committeewoman and political associate of former Governor John J. McKeithen. A former House member, David I. Patten, a contractor from Harrisonburg in Catahoula Parish, also ran unsuccessfully in the senatorial primary.[10]

Education career

Johnson holds a Ph.D. in professional education.[11] From the 1970s until 1984, he was a teacher, administrator, or superintendent for the Tensas Parish School Board in St. Joseph. In 1970, he was named principal of the former Joseph Moore Davidson High School (since Tensas High School) in St. Joseph at the beginning of court-ordered desegregation. The school was and remains more than 90 percent African American. On taking the principalship, Johnson was named among the "Outstanding Young Men of America." While a state representative, Johnson was employed full-time by the Tensas Parish School Board as the supervisor of career education. Then he became the superintendent, upon the resignation of William Edward Vosburg, Sr. (born October 13, 1940), the superintendent from 1977 to 1981. Vosburg had succeeded Charles E. Thompson, who held the position from 1970 to 1977, when he became a deputy assistant state superintendent over special education, based in Baton Rouge.[12]

Johnson left the Tensas superintendent's position for the same job in his native Ouachita Parish, at which he presided over a widespread school expansion program. In 2004, he relocated from Ouachita to Franklin Parish, a post he took at a time of financial stress for the school district.[13] After the failure of several tax propositions, Johnson procured funding for construction and renovation of certain Franklin Parish schools.[14]

Johnson, like his superintendent-wife, the former Carol Virginia Shipp (born November 11, 1941) in Tensas Parish, struggled with weak pupil performance on end-of-course examinations,but 35 percent of Franklin Parish public school pupils scored "good" or "excellent” on the 2012–2013 examinations; in 2008–2009, that number had been 37 percent. Johnson worked on professional development and assistance from the central office in an effort to boost achievement at Franklin Parish High School.[15]

Mrs. Johnson is originally from Bosco, also in Ouachita Parish.[11] As superintendent, she worked to close Newellton High School in 2006 and to designate a single high school for all Tensas Parish public school pupils, Tensas High School, the former Davidson school. Mrs. Johnson was superintendent until 2016, when Paul E. Nelson, the former superintendent in Concordia Parish, succeeded her.[16]

Lanny and Carol Johnson reside on Lake Bruin, an oxbow lake of the Mississippi River east of St. Joseph, some forty miles from his office in Winnsboro. There are two Johnson sons, Neal Johnson, Jr. (born August 10, 1969), a Monroe attorney married to Chantay Johnson, and Taylor Lance Johnson (born January 6, 1978), a businessman in Houston, Texas, who is married to Staci Johnson.[17]


  1. Bonnie Bolden (December 30, 2019). Lanny Johnson Retiring as Franklin Parish Schools superintendent.
  2. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812–2020. Retrieved on December 31, 2019.
  3. Fant's legacy lives on 'in his boys'. (October 13, 1998). Retrieved on January 1, 2009; no longer on-line.
  4. Mark S. Rainwater (October 13, 1998). Fant's legacy lives on in 'his boys'. Monroe News Star. Retrieved on January 3, 2010; no longer on-line.
  5. Class of 1979: Lanny Johnson. Retrieved on December 31, 2019.
  6. Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame Members. Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame (2010). Retrieved on January 9, 2010; no longer on-line.
  7. State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Election returns, November 1, 1975.
  8. Billy Hathorn, "Education in Tensas Parish, Louisiana: Desegregation, Re-Segregation, and the Continuing Decline in School Enrollments, 1970-2017," North Louisiana History, Vol. 49 (Winter and Spring 2018), p. 49.
  9. Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880–2020. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on December 31, 2019.
  10. State of Louisiana, Election returns, 1979 primary and general election.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Louisiana Public School Districts Superintendents. Retrieved on December 30, 2009; no longer on-line.
  12. Hathorn, "Education in Tensas Parish", p. 48.
  13. Hathorn, "Education in Tensas Parish," p. 50.
  14. "Tax renewals pass in two area parish elections," The Monroe News-Star, November 15, 2009.
  15. Barbara Leader, "Proficiency slips in Tensas, Franklin Parish schools," The Monroe News-Star, accessed July 14, 2013}}
  16. Hathorn, "Education in Tensas Parish", pp, 53-54.
  17. Hathorn, "Education in Tensas Parish", p. 50.