Endowment Signing


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JOHNSON CLIPA Family Tradition...Johnson Nursery Corporation is an approximately 50 acre nursery that sits on the 600 acres of land once owned by the late Dr. George Johnson, Sr., a prominent doctor in Wilmington, NC, who loved the land. Dr. Johnson, Sr. would visit the “farm” to renew and relax from his busy medical practice in the city. He was a “gentleman farmer” and others helped run the day-to-day farming operation. However, he strongly believed in the work ethic of farming the good earth, so he sent both his children (son, George Johnson, Jr. and daughter, Sarah Johnson Durham) to work during their summer vacations – an experience that they never forgot.

JOHNSON CLIP 4The Johnson Nursery staff newsletter is named The Turtle Tattler, and it features everything from birthdays, welcomes, congratulations, and sales awards to a very special “Doc’s Corner”  where George Jr. always had one of his famous jokes. The newsletter actually gets its name from the company’s mascot – the “turtle on top of the fence post. ”

Just as the old adage says, “If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he did not get there by himself,” the Johnson family agrees that Johnson Nursery did not get where it is today by itself. The concrete turtle on the post is there to remind staff, customers, family, and friends that we all must help each other to succeed.

The Scholarship…In keeping with the “turtle on top of the fence post” — the Johnson family designated that the JOHNSON NURSERY SCHOLARSHIP will be used to assist and encourage students to pursue a career in the nursery industry. Scholarship recipients will have the additional opportunity for a (compensated) summer internship at Johnson Nursery, with optional housing provided to qualified interns.

Recipients who are successful and continue to pursue an interest in this career path will be given first preference for on-going JOHNSON NURSERY SCHOLARSHIP opportunities. The desire of the family is eventually to have four continuous $1,000 scholarships, one for each scholastic class (i.e.,  freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and coordinating student summer internships.

The NC State University Connection…Educated at Duke University and thinking that he might go into marine biology, David Johnson, George Jr. 's son, realized that he really wanted to “work” the farm. He attended J.C. Raulston’s Horticultural Science class on nursery management, where he put together a prospectus and business plan for building a successful nursery. Dr. Raulston told David he was probably his only student who actually built a nursery from that class assignment. On a visit to Johnson Nursery, Dr. Raulston admired a most unique and beautiful Cunninghamia lanceolata. This particular plant came from a cutting that David propogated from a plant in his Mother’s Chapel Hill garden. The original plant was a gift to Marian Ritchie Johnson (David’s Mother) from her mother, Margaret Chason Ritchie (David’s Grandmother).  Since this plant was clearly a new cultivar, Dr. Raulston encouraged David to name it, hence it became "Chason’s Gift." J.C. and David continued a life-long friendship until Dr. Raulston’s untimely death in 1996. David and Jill have fond memories of touring with J.C. , and the Cunninghamia lanceolata, "Chason’s Gift," is still growing at Johnson Nursery and at the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA Bed #E29).


Marian Ritchie Johnson, M. ED. and her late husband, George Johnson, Jr. , M.D. Marian Johnson resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she and late husband, George, had successful and distinguished practices for nearly 50 years and raised four children. George passed away on May 15, 2007.

Marian Johnson has had a private practice in Marriage and Family Counseling since 1980 and worked for many years prior to that counseling undergraduate and graduate students at the Presbyterian Student Center in Chapel Hill. She was Founder and Director of “A Woman’s Place” – a resource and information center to serve women in the University and community. Marian has always been an active community leader, most recently serving as President of the Chapel Hill Preservation Society.

Marian received her B.A. in Psychology and Math from Converse College, Spartanburg, SC; her Masters of Education in Guidance and Counseling from UNC, Chapel Hill, NC; and her Clinical Training in Counseling from Duke University School of Divinity.

George Johnson  (April 6, 1926 – May 15, 2007) was one of the leading cardiovascular surgeons in the country. George served as 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry during WWII (1944-46) and received the Medal of Commendation. George received his B.S. in Medicine and his certificate in Medicine from UNC, Chapel Hill, NC. He received his M.D. from Cornell University, Intern in Surgery, Assistant Resident in Surgery, and Chief Resident in Surgery in New York Hospital (1952-59).

George began his distinguished career at the University of North Carolina in 1959. He received the Roscoe B. G. Cowper Distinguished Professor of Surgery in 1973, the Teacher of the Year Award for UNC Dept. of Surgery in 1990, the Norma Berryhill Distinguished Lecturer in 1992, and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2006 – just to name a few of his awards and accomplishments.

Jill Teachey Johnson and David Ritchie Johnson Jill and David Johnson work in successful partnership at Johnson Nursery – David as the President and General Manager and Jill as the Human Resources Manager. They have two children, Chason (15) and Annie (10).

Jill Teachey Johnson was raised in Teachey, NC, in Duplin County and received her B.A. in Speech Communications from UNC-W in Wilmington, NC in 1989. Jill enjoys boating, horses, tennis, soccer, and riding bikes. She is an active community leader and dedicated volunteer at their church, Wallace Presbyterian Church.

David Ritchie Johnson was raised in Chapel Hill, NC and received his B.S. from Duke University in 1979. He later studied with J.C. Raulston at NC State University’s Department of Horticultural Science, and that association helped David realize his vision for the Johnson Nursery.

David received the North Carolina Association of Nurserymen’s Outstanding Young Nurseryman of the Year in 1990. David is an active community leader in the Wallace Rotary, coaches youth soccer, serves as an Elder at Wallace Presbyterian Church, and much more.

Like Father, Like Son…David’s father  (George, Jr. ) would later bring his family to the farm for retreat. At an early age, David learned the thrill of propagating new plants and watching this miraculous process. The visits to the farm would have a profound effect on David and instill in him a lasting love of nature and plants.

The Nursery Family…David and Jill have a deep, caring and strong sense of family. This is reflected in how they do business and treat their employees – like family. Their “family” takes pride in everything they do, and customer service and product excellence are most important. From the logo of a hand gently cradling a plant, to their motto in this picture, it is clear they care about their staff, their community, and their customers.

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