GZBF is deeply saddened by the passing of longtime supporter Genita Evangelista Johnson, fondly referred to as “GiGi”, the life partner of Richard Allen Williams, M.D. She died June 13, 2020, at the age of 84.
GZBF President, Ramsey Jay, Jr., said in a statement: “Gigi was a fierce youth empowerment advocate and an absolute model of doing well by doing good. I count myself as one of the lucky ones who was able to have my life enriched by her rich friendship, and GZBF was a fortunate partner of her transformative philanthropic initiatives”. GiGi was an educator, a businesswoman and a philanthropist, whose absence will be keenly felt. She was born on September 21, 1935, in Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated from St. Margaret’s Academy in Boston, MA and went on to attend Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, where she earned a BA in Liberal Arts, an MA in Early Childhood Education and teaching credentials. Upon graduation, she began working for the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) system as a fourth-grade teacher. During those first two years out of college, the Superintendent of Education appointed her to design and implement a model remedial reading program for inner-city schools, which dramatically improved student test scores. Later, she served as the Chief Psychological Consultant for eight elementary and two high schools in that same school system. After 13 years, she left IPS to serve as the Director for the Race Desegregation Institute at Indiana University in Indianapolis, IN. There, she trained teachers and school administrators.
GiGi was also a savvy businesswoman. For over 50 plus years, even as she began her career in education, she owned and operated, along with other family members, several real estate brokerage firms and enterprises, where she managed office and residential properties and restored historical buildings, first in Indianapolis and later in Los Angeles. In her most recent venture, she had been the Principal Partner of GE Johnson and Son, a real estate development and securities investment firm. GiGi will be remembered most for her unwavering support of educators, students and musicians as well as her steadfast commitment to the elimination of disparities. In 2012, she established and provided the seed funding for the Dr. Richard Allen Williams & Genita Evangelista Johnson/Association of Black Cardiologists Scholarship for African American medical students. The scholarship is administered by the American Medical Association Foundation and recognizes an African American medical student with an expressed interest in cardiology.
GiGi also instituted the Taryn Lisa Johnson Scholarship for African American girls from Los Angeles County entering college, in conjunction with the GZBF in Pasadena, CA and in recognition of her daughter, Taryn, who passed away in 2016. In 2018, she set up the Genita Evangelista Johnson Scholarship for Black high school girls pursuing medical careers, with the National Medical Association.
Many organizations have honored GiGi for her generosity with Proclamations, including the American Medical Association for her outstanding philanthropy benefitting deprived medical students; the Association of Black Cardiologists for her help in increasing diversity and decreasing healthcare disparities; Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for her philanthropy for minority youth; Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin for her educational assistance to inner-city youth; and GZBF for the establishment of a scholarship benefiting college-bound girls. “Every day of my life, my Queen GiGi inspired me to achieve many great accomplishments and I know I will continue to derive that same loving inspiration from her even in death. My love for her is and will always remain eternal.” – Richard Allen Williams, M.D. (Life Partner) Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family. GiGi’s gracious spirit was an inspiration to us all and will be dearly missed. Rest in Peace!