Former Islip Clerk and GOP Congressional Candidate, 1933-2019
By Lauren ten Hoopen
Joan B. Johnson, Town of Islip Clerk for 16 years and Suffolk’s Republican congressional candidate, has passed at 86 years old. She was the first woman of color to be a town official and run for the United States Congress – a true inspiration to our community as a dedicated public servant and advocate.
Johnson was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, and attended undergraduate programs at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She later moved to New York City and was married in 1957 to Cleveland Johnson Jr. By 1967, Johnson worked as a community liaison for the Town of Islip and eventually graduated from SUNY Old Westbury, and received her masters in social welfare from Stony Brook University in 1977. She worked as a town clerk for the Town of Islip from 1991 to 2007, and ran for Congress as a Republican candidate in 2000. She is survived by her husband of 62 years; their children, Keith, Genevieve, Kelly and Cleveland III; and 11 grandchildren.
As a long-time Islip resident, Johnson contributed to the community immensely, not only through her position in the Town of Islip but also through her volunteer work. She was a board member of the Central Islip School District, was actively involved with Long Island Head Start, was a part of both the Boy and Girl Scout Councils, helped with local church events, and always sought to involve herself in order to make a positive impact. As a Town of Islip clerk, Johnson married more than 2,500 couples in her career. She took pride in being a part of such precious moments and exemplified true kindness.
Fellow elected official and former councilman, Steven Flotteron, describes Joan as a radiant woman. “She was a wonderful, strong person that held herself with such grace, poise, and class. She was always there for the town and her colleagues, and always dressed to the nines. What a lady.”
Her positivity and bright spirit was recognized by many. As the first person of color to be elected to office in all of Islip’s 335 years, as well as being the first woman sent for a congressional run from our district, Joan Johnson proved to be a groundbreaking figure. She is a role model who helped further diversify and jolt the landscape of politics. The passion Johnson held will continue to inspire our community.
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