Vennie Ruth Boler Johnson was born March 5, 1928, in Decatur, Mississippi to Charles Harrison Boler and Alma Day Boler. She grew up with eight brothers and sisters in a supportive and wholesome family environment. She began her quest for learning within her closely knit family where all the siblings were expected to not only to achieve their best but to serve others with their gifts and achievements. A large part of her experience with serving others began during her formative years at Spring Hill M.B. Church where she also developed an interest in singing.
Ruth graduated from Newton Vocation High School (Newton, MS), obtaining an educational foundation that prepared her for pursuing higher levels of learning. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Tougaloo College, Master of Arts from the University of Southern California, and a specialist’s degree in education from Jackson State University.
Her first job was teaching English at Shirley Owens High School in Quitman, MS, followed by E.T. Hawkins High School (Forest, MS), Utica Junior College, Mississippi Valley State College, and Tougaloo College where she retired after 30 years. She was also adjunct professor at Jackson State University.
She remained a supportive, strong, and caring mentor to her nieces, nephews, along with many former students and youth throughout her community. Her allegiance to the premier importance of family was evident throughout her educational endeavors. Her family and close friends held her in high admiration as one of the founders and organizers of the first Boler and Day Family Reunion in 1972, held in Flint, Michigan.
Ruth maintained involved in professional organizations that bolstered her career, including the National Council of Teachers of English, Mississippi Education Association, Conference on College Composition and Communication, College Language Association, Phi Delta Kappa (Utica Chapter) Linguistic Society, The National Council of Negro Women, Evaluation Team for the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, and the Mississippi Arts Alliance.
She was steadfast in humanitarian services through civic and community involvement. She was an active member of New Hope Baptist Church, the Montebello Drive Block Association, Tougaloo College national and local alumni associations, former alumni representative of Tougaloo College Board of Trustees, NAACP supportive member, the Stonecroft Ministry Bible Study, the Women’s Mission Union, Golden Life Member of Jackson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Committee Chair of the George A. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund, Black Women’s Political Action Forum, contributor to the Smith Robertson Museum, Jackson Public Schools Parent Task Force 1977-78, local coordinator of the African American Read-In Chain, 1995-2000, and Tougaloo College Alumna of the Year 2001.
Several awards, plaques, and citations remain to attest to her undying involvement in education. Most notably among these are the C. H. Boler High School Alumni Association, President’s Club at Tougaloo College, Outstanding Teacher 1990, and Leadership in the Humanities Writing Workshop.
Ruth was married to George A. Johnson who preceded her in death. She is survived by her devoted daughter, Nicole (Len) Cherry; grandchildren, Jasmine and Jarvis Pearson, all of Jackson, MS; sister, Emma Boler Hill of Flint, MI; and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Final arrangements were entrusted to Lakeover Memorial Funeral Home, Jackson, MS. Dr. Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church officiated.