Charles Hamilton Johnson ’54

Charles “Charlie” Hamilton Johnson, 90, of Black Mountain, NC and formerly of Greenville, SC, passed away on December 8, 2021 at Givens Highland Farms.

Charles was born December 3, 1931 in Spartanburg, SC to the late Horace Gash Johnson and Willie Mae Garret Johnson. He moved with his family when he was 10 years old to Greenville SC where he grew up and attended Greenville High School. He was President of the student body and star football player for the GHS Red Raiders under the coaching of famous “Slick” Moore. He attended Davidson College where he was active in the student body and President of the Senate.

Charles also graduated from ROTC as a Lieutenant in the US ARMY and was sent to Ft. Benning, GA for Army Ranger training. After two years of service, Charlie made a decision to dedicate his life to the service of others. He chose the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) as he had grown up in the YMCA in Greenville under the mentorship of the legendary “Uncle” Johnny Holmes and George Mackey’s Rotary Boys Choir.
After receiving his Masters in YMCA Administration from Springfield College, he began his YMCA work in Penns Grove, NJ and Harrisburg, PA.

In 1958, he married the love of his life, Kitty Mitchell who has been by his side for 63 beautiful years.

In 1967, he received a call from another legendary and much beloved Y leader named Monk Mulligan, who hand picked him to become the next Executive Director in Greenville where he stayed until 1978. Charlie’ s leadership and devotion to the Y mission resulted in him starting so many ” firsts” in bringing vital programs to the Metro YMCA – many which continue to this day. Charlie ended his career as campaign manager with the United Way of Dallas TX, continuing on with his dedication to helping others.

Upon retirement, he and Kitty wanted to live in the mountains and fell in love with Black Mountain, NC where they built their home and became part of the community, volunteering and fundraising for good causes and involved with their church. They also traveled all over the United States and his family has spent many wonderful years and holidays in Black Mountain and in Hilton Head. The last few years, Charlie and Kitty were residents of Givens Highland Farms retirement home in Black Mountain.

Charlie will be remembered by those who knew and loved him for his love of life, care and concern for every living thing, his humility, warmth, infectious smile, his curiosity for the world around him and numerous random acts of kindness. He was much beloved by so many near and far and will be greatly missed. Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister, Harriett Johnson Singleton. Left to cherish his memory is his loving wife of 63 years, Kathryn “Kitty” Mitchell Johnson; daughter, Kathryn Ailene Johnson of Greenville, SC; son, Keith Mitchell Johnson and his wife, Lynne Johnson of Charlotte, NC; and granddaughters, Miriam Johnson and Alexandria Johnson, who were the apple of his eye.

A celebration of life service will be held at a later date in Black Mountain, NC.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. James Episcopal Church, PO Box 1087, Black Mountain, NC 28711 or YMCA of Greenville, Attn: Scot Baddley, 723 Cleveland Street, Greenville, SC 29601.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the caring and compassionate staff of Givens Highland Farms for their loving care.