Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Photo courtesy of: CHSP

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OHIO executive in residence honored with Ohio History Leadership Award

Tom Johnson has long been a staunch advocate for the preservation of historic venues and information. His efforts have earned him the Ohio History Leadership Award, for which he was honored on Feb. 27 in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio Statehouse during the 2019 Statehood Day luncheon.

Johnson is an executive in residence at Ohio University in both the College of Health Sciences and Professions and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. He is also the mayor of Somerset in Perry County and a past president of the Perry County Historical Society.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Larry Householder introduced Johnson, saying it was a “special honor” to do so.

“Tom was raised in (Perry) County, left and did wonderful things in international banking. He retired, came back home and has given so much to his county and his community. There’s no way we could ever express all the things you’ve accomplished for our area,” Householder said of Johnson.

“He works harder than anyone on projects and is continually reaching out to work on more projects,” he continued. “Anyone in the Statehouse may say, ‘I just talked to Tom Johnson…’ and I say, ‘Of course you did!’.”

Johnson took the stage and thanked Householder and the Ohio History Connection — a statewide organization that carries out history services, advocates for the preservation of historic archives and manages more than 50 historic sites and museums. Johnson said not much has changed in Somerset, a town of about 1,500 people which had a population of approximately 1,400 people in 1857. In some ways, he tries to keep it like that.

“We have a national register of historic district that has over 70 structures and a density of buildings still intact,” he said. “We have a tremendous responsibility to preserve and maintain such a wonderful legacy.”

At OHIO, Johnson said his role is to help the University “intentionally focus its talent, resources and intellectual capacity toward looking at how to address the disparities that exist in our region relative to the rest of the state and the country.” He specifically mentioned disparities in lack of access to healthcare, the opioid epidemic, economic development, poverty and revitalization of rural communities.