Jun 15, 2023

In Memoriam: J.J. Johnson (1949-2023)

By Jonathan Horowitz - USEA Staff
J.J. Johnson (1949-2023). Michelle Dunn photo

J.J. Johnson devoted her life to eventing, and now the United States Eventing Association (USEA) joins the eventing community in mourning her passing on Monday, June 5, at the age of 73.

Johnson, a resident of Lynnville, Tennessee, in the USEA’s Area III held many roles within the sport, including serving as the Area III Chair for six years at the beginning of the 21st century. She also served on the USEA Board of Governors for one term.

The Area III Council issued the statement: “Her knowledge and energy will be missed by all who were fortunate to have known her.”

The Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T., an event Johnson organized for more than three decades. Carissa Lynn Photography photo

Johnson served as organizer of the Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T. in Nashville for more than three decades starting in 1986. Formerly known as the Nashville-Tennessean One-Day Horse Trials, that event was one of the 15 original horse trials recognized by the United States Combined Training Association, the predecessor to the USEA, in 1960. The 2023 Middle Tennessee Pony Club H.T. are scheduled to take place on October 7-8, and the MTPC will host a reception in Johnson’s honor on October 7.

The 1960 list of USCTA-recognized events. USEA Archives photo

Johnson also organized the USEA American Eventing Championships when they were held at Chattahoochee Hills in Fairburn, Georgia. The USEA honored her with the Platinum Medal on the USEA Organizers Appreciation Honor Roll. As of 2022, there were only 37 recipients of the Platinum Medal, which recognizes more than 25 years of service to organizing events. Johnson was also awarded the Governor’s Cup by the USEA in 2005.

“JJ was the queen behind the scene,” former USEA President Max Corocoran said.

Johnson also provided her expertise to many other events in her roles as Technical Delegate (TD) and Cross-Country Controller. She served as an official and volunteer at three Olympic Games, as well as the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2010. She was the Radio Coordinator at the Kentucky Three-Day Event for close to 30 years.

“Too many to list,” was her response when asked about her favorite memory from volunteering by the organizing committee at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, at which she first worked in 1993. “Every year is special and filled with the camaraderie of seeing long-time co-workers, friends and meeting new ones.”

Before becoming a highly regarded organizer, official, and volunteer, Johnson evented with her palomino mare Ahmirra and bay gelding Jason.

Michelle Dunn photo

Services and a reception for Johnson, who was born on July 6, 1949, will be held on Tuesday, June 27. The services are scheduled for 11 a.m. at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home at 9090 Hwy 100 in Nashville.

The reception following the service at 2 p.m. will be held at the Percy Warner Equestrian Center. It will be a “TAILGATE,” with attendees sharing their best recipes. The Middle Tennessee Pony Club will host with tables, chairs, and flowers. Johnson’s daughter is scheduled to attend, and many stories will be shared.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Middle Tennessee Pony Club; c/o Peppy Butler, Treasurer; 5892 Natchez Trace Road, Franklin, TN 37064-9212. Funds received will be used toward building a jump dedicated to the event’s longtime organizer.

Michelle Dunn photo

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