Houston Treasures

Richard J.V. (in memoriam) and Belle Johnson


Photo by: Kaye Marvins

johnson richard j.v belle Publisher’s note: Richard J.V. Johnson passed away in January, 2006. His numerous contributions to our community and immeasurable and his legacy lives on.

Belle Griggs Johnson is a native Houstonian and has been a dedicated, active volunteer for over 25 years. She met Richard J. V. Johnson, now retired chairman of the Houston Chronicle, while they were attending Houston’s San Jacinto High School.

Dick Johnson began his career with the Houston Chronicle in 1956 as a copywriter and eventually became president, publisher, and chairman. He has served as chairman and president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association and similar professional organizations. Dick has held leadership positions on the boards of the Texas Medical Center, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, The Robert A. Welch Foundation, the State Fair of Texas, and numerous civic organizations.

Belle’s key interests are the arts, education, and the welfare of children and their families. On her own, and in conjunction with her husband, she has made innumerable contributions to the quality of public life in these areas. The non-profit community has recognized them individually and jointly with countless awards and distinctions. For example, Belle and Dick were “Pacesetters of the Year” for the Cancer League in 1991, the same year they co-chaired the UNICEF Ball. They have been recipients of the Jewish Community Center’s Scholarship Ball award and the “Houstonians of the Year” award from the Houston School for Deaf Children at their ‘Hear All About It’ Gala. They have received the “Loving Hearts and Caring Hands” award from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Belle was the first recipient of the Consular Ladies Club’s “Community Leader Award”, and also received the prestigious “Ima Hogg Award” from the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston. The Johnsons have been honored by the Assistance League of Houston for their philanthropy. She and Dick have lent their support to virtually every area of the Houston performing arts and fine arts communities. In 2003, Belle and Dick successfully chaired the 20 million dollar University of Houston M.D. Anderson Library/Honors College Capital Campaign for Belle’s alma mater. Dick has been named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas and received the Outstanding Philanthropy Award from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

Belle and Dick are founding members of Emerson Unitarian Church. They have two children and three grandchildren.

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