Beloved WWII veteran and WSSU grad Elizabeth Barker Johnson dies at 100

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She had the crowd on its feet during Winston-Salem State University’s 2019 Commencement.

Elizabeth Barker Johnson finally experienced walking across the stage 70 years after earning her education degree.

Johnson, a World War II veteran, passed away Sunday.

She was 100 years old.

“She’s really going to be missed. It really hurts right now. It really does because we really weren’t expecting it,” her daughter Cynthia Scott said.

As they grieve, Johnson’s family takes some comfort in knowing that their beloved mother and grandmother’s 100 years were full of impact.

Johnson grew up in Elkin and enlisted in the Army in 1943.

FOX8 featured Johnson in the 2019 Faces of Courage special.

Johnson talked about serving in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion also known as the “Six Triple Eight,” the only all-Black female unit sent overseas to get the delayed mail system back on track during World War II.

“I’m not bragging, but I feel like I did a good job. If you could have seen that mail room, all the mail backed up for the number of years it had been backed up,” Johnson said in the interview.

Johnson was one of the few out of the 855 members in the battalion still living.

Johnson earned a degree in education in 1949 from what is now Winston-Salem State University.

She immediately began teaching in Virginia after she graduated and couldn’t attend commencement.

She told FOX8 in 2019 that her superintendent would not let her attend.

During Johnson’s 99th birthday celebration, WSSU staff members surprised her with the news that she would walk during the spring 2019 commencement.

Her granddaughters remember the excitement of seeing her on stage.

“For them to be gracious enough to say, ‘We want to take time out of our day to let you have your moment,’ I am truly blown away,” granddaughter Shandra Bryant said.

“We were out in the audience. We were cheering just as loud if not louder than everyone else out there. It was a very beautiful moment for our family,” granddaughter Tiffany Scott said.

Johnson spent most of her teaching career with Elkin City Schools.

A funeral service and internment will be held in Hickory Friday.

In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting donations to the Elizabeth Johnson Scholarship Fund.

Donations can be sent to Elkin High School.

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