I.S. Leevy Johnson: Inspiration and Achievement

One of the great joys of our work is getting to know our collection donors.  During 2013, we will begin to receive the papers of I.S. Leevy Johnson, and we are looking forward to getting to know him better.

It’s hard to pigeonhole Mr. Johnson.  He is a mortician, a former member of the General Assembly, a highly accomplished attorney, and a community leader.  His papers will form a welcome addition to our holdings.  In 1996, I was privileged to interview him for the South Carolina Bar Foundation.  The interview can be viewed at the Bar’s web site.   I recommend it to anyone reading this blog.

The Home Team

I.S. Leevy Johnson surrounded by other Democrat leaders, from a Democratic Party flyer
titled “The Home Team.”

Mr. Johnson is an inspirational figure.  When asked about his life, he noted, “My ambition was just simply live a good life so you won’t embarrass your family.  And that’s what has motivated me throughout my life. . . .  I had some innate talent, sort of a driving force to want to achieve things.  I had a gift of having ideas.  If you study leaders, they’re idea people.  And the other thing is that they make good decisions.  You’ve got to have good judgment in order to be a leader.”

Attorneys who enjoy success in the courtroom are generally highly competitive.  Johnson, a noted criminal attorney, said, “I love the drama of a courtroom.  I love the competition.  I love the combat.  I realize that God gave me a gift for that type of work, and through the years, I have studied hard and practiced hard to try to improve my skills.”

And he shared a thought about his career in the legislature that had never occurred to me when he said, “during the course of my career, I was constantly in the business of trying to block bad legislation.”   Before that moment, I’d never fully appreciated the benefit we all derive from the work done to block bad legislation and repeal bad law.

We look forward to continuing to follow Mr. Johnson’s career in years to come and, eventually, to making his papers available for study here at SCPC.

~ Contributed by Herbert J. Hartsook

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