Marion Lee Johnson: “A Hidden Figure”
By Rev. W. Golden Carmon, Sr., 1st Episcopal District
Marion Lee Johnson, a “Hidden Figure,” graduated from Tompkins High School in Savannah, Georgia, receiving the honor of Valedictorian of her class. She attended Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama, majoring in mathematics. After graduating from Talladega College, she began her career as an Associate Engineer at Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama in 1967. Boeing was a leader in building the Apollo Saturn V rocket. Sister Marion Lee Johnson was assigned to the Launch Systems Branch at Boeing, and worked on the NASA project for the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA), under the direction of the legendary Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph.
The contributions to NASA’s space program by Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan are featured in the 2017 movie, “Hidden Figures.” Katherine, Mary, and Dorothy were physicists and mathematicians who worked directly with John Glenn. As pioneering contributors to NASA in the early application of digital electronic computers, Katherine, Mary, and Dorothy helped to ensure Glenn’s success as the first American to orbit Earth in the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule in 1962.
Like her predecessors, Marion Lee Johnson’s contributions were well hidden in Boeing and NASA. While working on the Boeing/NASA team in 1967, Marion Lee Johnson was responsible for preparing data inputs for simulation of vehicle piece impact trajectories. Marion Lee Johnson received significant commendations in March of 1969 for an incredible perfect score of 20 successful runs out of 20 attempts. Boeing also recognized her for her dedication, technical competence, and high standards of achievements in contributing to America’s successful First Manned Lunar Landing Mission on July 20, 1969, where Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Sister Marion’s name is enshrined in the Apollo/Saturn V Roll of Honor. A copy of this historic Roll of Honor is in the Library of Congress, as well as the Smithsonian Institution, both in Washington, D.C. (Also see, http://abc7ny.com/1815282/).
Following her two-year assignment with Boeing/NASA, Mrs. Johnson was employed at Pfizer, Inc. and retired as a Project Leader after 26 years of service. She currently works at the Branford Hall Career Institute, formerly known as the Chubb Institute, as a Computer Networking and Security Instructor.
Sister Marion Lee Johnson has been an active member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church since 1969 and a member of Mount Zion AME Church of Plainfield, New Jersey since 1985. She currently serves as president of the stewardess board. She is married to J. Frank Johnson, a member of the Mount Zion, Plainfield steward board and owner of J. F. Johnson & Co., providing accounting, tax, audit, and advisory services. They have three accomplished adult children—Dr. Sherri Wilson, Vice President of Women’s Services at Reston Hospital in Virginia; Miss Toni Renee’ Johnson, Dance Director at Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia; and Mrs. Tracy R. Hardy, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Lorain County Health & Dentistry in Lorain, Ohio.