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Friday, February 13, 2009

Coach Milton H. Johnson passes at 2 a.m., Friday, Feb. 13

Coach Milton H. Johnson
Retired Chipola coach Milton H. Johnson died Friday, Feb. 13, in Marianna.

Visitation will be in the Milton H. Johnson Health Center on Sunday, February 15, 2009, from 4-6pm. CST. The funeral will be in the Milton H. Johnson Health Center on Monday, February 16, 2009, at 10:00am. CST.

Coach Milton H. Johnson is among the best to ever coach in community college basketball. From 1961 to 1993, Johnson won 628 games and led the Indians seven national tournaments, finishing second in 1974. He was named Division Coach of the Year nine times, Region VIII Coach of the Year six times and FCCAA Coach of the Year four times.
Johnson’s winning ways didn’t begin in junior college ball. The legendary coach gained wide recognition during six years at Campbellton High School (1955-61) by winning three state titles and rolling up an incredible 55-game winning streak. His lifetime coaching record includes more than 800 wins.
Johnson played basketball, baseball and football at Bay High in Panama City. In 1947, he joined Chipola’s first basketball team under Coach Roy Beall. Later he transferred to East Central Junior College in Mississippi, where he played basketball and football, and met his wife, the late Evelyn Johnson. Coach Johnson and his biggest fan, Evelyn, had two sons, Jimmy and David and an infant grandson.
Johnson finished college at Livingston College (now the University of West Alabama) where he was an outstanding scorer and defensive star as guard. After receiving his B.S., he earned a Master’s in Physical Education from Florida State. He then served for two years in the Army before taking his first coaching job in Campbellton.
Johnson’s gentle demeanor and professional attitude earned him the respect of players and coaches alike. Chipola hosts the Milton H. Johnson Classic each year. The Chipola gymnasium bears the name: Milton H. Johnson Health Center. And shortly after his retirement in 1993, coaches from the league named the Panhandle Conference trophy in his honor.
Johnson is a founding member and long-serving officer of the Chipola Appreciation Club, arguably one of the top athletic booster organizations in America. Club members raise thousands through annual memberships and corporate sponsorships and have amassed some $1 million in an athletic endowment.
Johnson was a charter member of the Florida Community College Hall of Fame (1990) and was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1993.
Chipola held two major events in the last couple of years to honor coach Johnson. Chipola’s Night of Champions in 2007, featured Billy Donovan, coach of the Florida Gators two-time national champions basketball team and Chipola alumnus Cliff Ellis, head coach at Coastal Carolina.
In February of 2008, more than 100 of Johnson’s players, cheerleaders and friends attended a reunion to recognize him for his contributions to their lives. On Jan. 17, 2009 several of these players presented a check for $50,000 to Chipola for the purpose of permanently endowing a scholarship in honor of Coach Johnson. To make a contribution to the fund, contact the Chipola Foundation at 850-718-2445.
One of Johnson’s former players Robert Trammell, said, “Not many people earn the title of legend during their lifetime, but Coach Milton Johnson has done just that. In addition to his phenomenal records on the court, the contributions he made to the lives of so many young people are tremendous.”

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