While the flowers have been spread in his remembrance, the legacy of James “Jim” Johnson will continue to flourish at the Benz School of Floral Design in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University. Johnson died earlier this month.
Johnson was the director of the Benz School of Floral Design and the Benz Gallery of Floral Art at Texas A&M for more than 35 years. He was the first person to hold the Endowed Chair of the Benz School of Floral Design, the only such Endowed Chair of its kind in the world, after personally being asked to serve as the director by Buddy Benz, creator of the school.
“Jim Johnson was one of the finest, most caring individuals with whom I’ve ever worked,” said Dan Lineberger, Ph.D., head of the Department of Horticultural Sciences. “He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word, and he was totally committed to Texas A&M University. A true professional in all that he did, and beloved by all his students, and by his peers.”
Johnson brought his broad knowledge of floral art, experience in retail floristry and network as a participating member in state and national floral organizations to the position. He was a guest designer at symposiums and workshops around the globe, as well as at garden club seminars and florist programs.
His many responsibilities at Texas A&M included serving as the Senior Lecturer of Floral Design for the Department of Horticulture, director of San Jacinto Publishing Company, the director of the Benz Gallery of Floral Art, and the director of the Benz School Korea, located in Seoul, South Korea.
Johnson was a world-renowned educator of floral design and floral art, influencing generations of floral designers and educators, and was honored with the title of Distinguished Lecturer at Texas A&M.
He retired from the Benz director position in 2011, earning the title of Lecturer Emeritus. He remained active in the program and with the students for many years after, including helping the Student Chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers celebrate their 40th anniversary last year.
Johnson earned his undergraduate degree in floriculture from Michigan State University and later, his master’s degree from Texas A&M.
He was a member or leader in the American Institute of Floral Designers, AIFD, Texas State Florists Association, American Academy of Florists and various garden clubs in College Station.
Johnson received the Distinguished Lecturer honor and the Honor Professor Award. He also was recognized by the Texas State Florists Association and received AIFD’s Award of Distinguished Service to the Floral Industry in 1999.
He co-authored the revisions to Flowers: Creative Design, wrote five Texas Certified Florist Program programs, and served as the advisor to Student Chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers at Texas A&M.