Library director loved helping others, giving back to the community

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Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

A memorial service for Dr. Alice Johnson is set for Aug. 29 at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church.

Cynthia M. Herrera

Dr. Alice Johnson, Dean of Learning Resources

Dr. Alice Johnson, Dean of Learning Resources

Dr. Alice Johnson, 70, director of library services, died in her home Tuesday afternoon.

She was born Dec. 23, 1945, in Bowling Green, Ky.

Colleagues across the campus described Johnson as inspiring, compassionate and a leader always willing to give a helping hand.

Issac Brown, former president of the Gay Ally Lesbian Alliance at this college, said Johnson took on the role of adviser after the adviser before her died.

“Alice Johnson was a very firm person. She would tell you what you need to hear. That’s what we love about her,” Brown said “She was very much like that other mom for a lot of us, especially us that didn’t have that.”

Martha Castro, her department administrative assistant for 22 years, said in a phone interview, “Dr. Johnson was not just a supervisor, but a good friend. She empowered me.”

She paused, and then choked back tears as she said, “Partly because of her, I continued my education.”

Johnson joined this college in 1992 as the library director, where she added an online catalog, computers and databases. She was later promoted to dean of learning resources; however there was a reorganization of administration, and she became the director of library resources in June 2014.

She attended Texas Woman’s University where she received a B.A., M.L.S., and Ph.D. in library and information science with emphasis in business.

Johnson was responsible for the creation of the Angel Tree program, which benefited Travis Elementary School, now known as Travis Early College High School. The Angel Tree program through the college now sponsors Margil Elementary School. She volunteered with the Magic Closet; Fine Arts and Cultural Services committee; SACtacular, a neighborhood block party; and the Phi Theta Kappa food pantry drive.

Johnson worked in the Science Library at the University of North Texas, as a coordinator of public services at Texas Woman’s University and as a librarian at IBM.

Bruce Davis, professor in the department of creative media, said Johnson was a quiet, unassuming, humble, enthusiastic and spontaneous person.

Davis remembered one of Johnson’s experiences working at IBM.

He said that as the director of the corporate library, directors met for a budget pitch to the CEO.

When it was her turn, Johnson sang and danced with enthusiasm to “Big Spender” by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields from the musical “Sweet Charity.”

After the CEO heard her pitch, he gave her $250,000.

While this upset the other directors, they ended up helping Johnson when she needed it because she didn’t hesitate to split her department’s money to help them.

That was the type of person she was, giving, he said.

After a moment of reflection, Davis sang the show tune in tribute to Johnson during the interview.

Johnson was an avid reader. Her son Allan Johnson remembered Johnson always reading a book and keeping one in her purse until she received a Kindle as a gift from former college President Robert Zeigler, one of her favorite people, Castro said.

It brought her hope, joy and peace of mind, Johnson said.

“Unfortunately, when her eye sight got very bad, she got very depressed when she could no longer read anymore and couldn’t see the print on the pages, and Dr. Zeigler, God bless him, bought her a Kindle on which she could increase the text size and that saved her life at that point,” Johnson said.

“Reading was her life and she thought that everyone should have the opportunity to read,” he said.

Zeigler said in a phone interview that Johnson was a great person with a big heart.

“Alice just always made you feel good when you talked with her, and it’s going to be a real loss. We’re going to miss her,” Zeigler said.

Johnson is survived by her three children, Allan Johnson, 40; Philip Johnson, 31; and Robin Patino, 36; and four grandchildren.

She is also survived by her brothers, James Henry Holland and twins Walter and Howard Holland.

A children’s library will be established in her memory at the early childhood studies center at this college. Instead of donations such as flower arrangements, Johnson’s family would like financial contributions to be payable to the Alamo Colleges Foundation with the memo portion of the check: In memory of Alice Johnson.

Checks are to be mailed out to the Alamo Colleges Foundation Inc. District Office of Institutional Advancement, 1819 N. Main Ave, San Antonio, TX, 78212-3941.

A memorial service will take place 10:30 a.m. Aug.29 at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church, 227 W. Woodlawn Ave.



  1. Awesome, just one thing the original name is The Gay and Lesbian Association, now it’s popular to just call it”GALA” since the org has gone beyond just “gay and lesbian” advocacy, so and when people ask what it stands for we say it stands for Generosity, Activism, Leadership and Academics.

  2. Hello my name is Victoria Johnson she is my Grammy I cherished her so much and miss her I am now 11 my dad is Philip Johnson which is her blood soon I just wanted to drop by and say hi.

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