Candles lined the terrace of the journalism building as Manship faculty and students gathered to celebrate the life of Dean Martin Johnson.

Johnson passed away from a heart attack in the morning of Sept. 29, leaving a hole in the heart of the Manship family.

“I was talking to him four days ago just about grad school in general and going up and letting him know where I was applying,” LSU senior Olivia Peretti. “I just kind of sat in my desk chair in disbelief.”

Manship student organizations and LSU Campus Life planned the memorial immediately following the announcement of Johnson’s death. Manship College Council President Carrie Cole said she felt it was important to arrange something quickly to honor his memory.

“I just wanted to do it, and I felt like I had to,” Cole said. “Something that really struck me with him was how personal he was.  It didn’t feel like I was talking to a dean ever.” Cole added. “It felt like I was talking to my neighbor that I had known since I was a kid.”

Attendees signed up for a time slot to comply with COVID-19 capacity guidelines and could light candles in his honor. They were also able to write a personal letter to Dean Johnson and drop it in a Reveille newsstand...a tribute to Dean Johnson's time as editor when he was in college.

Journalism Area Head Roxanne Dill said she will miss the value that he placed on individuals and his kindness to faculty and students alike.  

“I think this is a good way to recognize, and for everyone to stop, and just think about life and how short it is and how much we need to value the moments we have with people,” Dill said.

Johnson was also a champion for inclusivity and diversity within the Manship School. NABJ member Mahogani Counts appreciated his effort to learn from Black student leaders on campus.

“Especially this summer just going through a lot of racial injustice, he was always very open with trying to find ways to make sure we felt acknowledged on campus, and that we didn’t feel like we were just being left out,” Counts said. 

LSU Interim President Tom Galligan recognized and admired Johnson’s commitment to supporting all students, and Galligan will continue to think of Johnson when he thinks of the Manship School.  

“He’s been at absolutely every one of the rallies and the marches that we’ve had about racial justice and social justice,” Galligan said. “There’s so much that I’m going to miss about him.  I mean, there’s a hole, and it’s big and it hurts.”

Students and faculty will continue to honor Johnson’s legacy through kind words, thoughts and actions.