Eunice Johnson, the widow of Ebony magazine founder John Johnson and a fashion maven who ran thousands of traveling runway shows aimed at black audiences, has died. She was 93.
Johnson died Sunday of renal failure at her Chicago home, said Wendy Parks, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company Inc., on Monday.
Johnson had been the director and producer of the Ebony Fashion Fair since 1961. The traveling high fashion charity event that showcases black designers and models is staged in nearly 200 cities each year. Ads for the show have featured singer Aretha Franklin, and actor Richard Roundtree made his debut as a model with the show.
She was a secretary-treasurer of Johnson Publishing, which produces JET and Ebony, two of the longest-running black-oriented magazines in the country.
"Mrs. Johnson has always been a woman ahead of her time," the publisher said. "Mrs. Johnson made a tremendous impact on the fashion industry, showcasing the best in style on African-American models of various shapes, sizes and skin tones."
Johnson, an Alabama native, is credited with naming Ebony magazine.
Of course I wouldn't be ME if I didn't have a Eunice Johnson story...I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Johnson in the early 1990's when she flew me out to Chicago to audition for Ebony Fashion Fair after receiving my comp card in the mail. It was my first trip to Chicago and I remember getting off the plane and walking around O'Hare airport thinking....this is the biggest airport I have ever seen in my life...lol. It was all very quick, a car was waiting to whisk me off to the offices of JPC and we sat down and talked for a while and then she took me on a personal tour of the offices. A tiny bundle of energy, although she was small in stature, the amount of respect she commanded as we walked through those offices was HUGE. We had lunch in the cafeteria, then she sent me off to have measurements taken and to be fitted for some garments. I sat there thinking to myself "did I really get this job?", lol....well that idea sat in my head for all of 10-15 minutes and then she came back and took me to meet her husband and her daughter. They were both pleasant enough, but I FELT Linda's vibe immediately and as I walked for them a few times I somehow I just KNEW I wasn't going to get the gig. And I didn't...lol. Never heard a peep from them again....
But I digress, Mrs Johnson was wonderful woman and I am grateful that I got to spend those few hours with her. My only regret was that I neglected to get a photograph with the legendary couple before they passed.
Rest in peace.