J. Lee Johnson IV was a reporter, businessman, tech guru, blogger, world traveler and mentor.
His roots ran deep in the history of Fort Worth. He was the grandson of Amon Carter Sr., founder and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and of J. Lee Johnson Jr., whose business interests included lumber, oil and banking.
Mr. Johnson was a Renaissance man whose boisterous laughter could fill a room, family members said this week.
He died Monday of lung cancer. He was 65.
“He was an incredibly intelligent and gentle man who loved his family,” son Hunter Burton Johnson said.
J. Lee Johnson IV was born Sept. 27, 1949, in Fort Worth to Ruth Carter and J. Lee Johnson III.
His mother helped build the Amon Carter Museum of American Art into a world-class institution. His father was a business and civic leader credited with a major role in the building of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Mr. Johnson served on several boards, including the Amon G. Carter Foundation Board.
He was tech savvy and enjoyed understanding how things worked. For example, as a child, he received his own vacuum cleaner so he could take it apart, his sons said. He learned how to weld and how to fly gliders.
Mr. Johnson started in journalism, earning a journalism degree from Stanford University and working for the Fort Worth Business Press and later for the Star-Telegram.
Hunter Johnson said his father covered the police beat in the mid-1970s. He woke up early to find out what crimes had taken place overnight and made the rounds of police stations to talk to officers.
About the time the Carter family sold the Star-Telegram, Mr. Johnson went to business school, and in 1976, received a master of business administration from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
He later founded Ribigital Electronic, a software and hardware company.
But writing was a passion that Mr. Johnson kept long after his reporting days ended, said sons Hunter Johnson and Lee Barrett Johnson. Between 2008 and 2012, Mr. Johnson wrote a blog about politics and global socioeconomics. And he wrote many letters to the editor of the Star-Telegram.
“Writing never left him,” Hunter Johnson said, explaining that Mr. Johnson was a world traveler who spoke French and Latin. He traveled in Europe and took motorcycle trips to Montana and Idaho, his sons said. He traveled by car to Nova Scotia and retraced the steps of the World War II 101st Airborne Division through northern France.
“He was the strongest-willed and brightest man that I ever knew,” said Hunter Johnson. His father embodied the idea that anything can be accomplished with determination, the son said.
In addition to his sons, survivors include sisters Sheila Broderick Johnson, Karen Johnson Hixon and Kate Johnson; brother Mark L. Johnson; and two grandchildren.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675
3 p.m. Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth.
Burial: Oakwood Cemetery