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Celebrating the life of
Mark Cundiff Johnson
January 09, 1951 - January 29, 2024
Born in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky, Mark Cundiff Johnson, 73 years old, grew up in Oxford, Ohio and went to high school in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. As a freshman in college at Kentucky Southern in Louisville, Mark’s two favorite courses were Introduction to Modern Art and Abnormal Psychology. The one, taught by a practicing artist, led to a life-long enjoyment of art - facilitated by stops in museums during his frequent travels through Europe and to and from Zimbabwe. The other, taught by a practicing psychologist, ultimately led to a career in Psychiatry.
One of his professors at FPC College, now Eckerd College, Joncker Biandudi, from Zaire, taught him golf was not a frivolous game and he took it up every ten years or so, enjoying the outdoors and the occasional beautiful shot. He met his wife, Marcia, at Eckerd. He described his first sight of her “as a vision, bounding across the zoysia grass like a gazelle”. Her grace brightened his life and her smile never failed to lift his spirits. He played rugby and soccer. He always loved to watch surfing and plans to take it up yet.
After medical school at the University of Kentucky, he learned Contextual Family Therapy under Ivan Bozormenyi-Nagy and “therapeutic alliance” under Israel Zwerling. His first office was on the Ben Franklin Parkway behind the Rodin Museum, three blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he often walked for lunch and enjoyed one work of art at a time.
Mark began private practice in Philadelphia and continued for twelve years in Cincinnati. He then joined the faculty of Washington University in St Louis working as the Medical Director for BJC Behavioral Health and Site Director for the Department of Psychiatry in Center City St Louis, providing trainees with experience in community psychiatry. He also taught in and supervised the Masters of Counseling program at Covenant Theological Seminary in the suburbs.
After 17 years in St Louis, Mark was recruited to become the CEO of Gateway Community Service Board on the Georgia coast, living in Savannah. While at the CSB he championed high quality care for under and un-insured people and lent strong support to the development of the “Prevent Suicide Today” program in Chatham County. With aid he founded an accredited Psychiatry Residency program in Savannah, and oversaw the establishment of a Child Psychiatry Fellowship and an Addiction Medicine Fellowship. His final workforce development project has been to bring a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy program to Savannah, in conjunction with the Mercer University School of Medicine.
A member of the Christian Church/Church of Christ for more than 40 years, Mark served as a deacon and elder and got to speak and counsel in Kherson, Simferopol, Harare, Gutu, Chennai, Paramaribo and Jyvaskyla. In 2016 he “came home” to the Anglican Church, becoming a confirmed member of Christ Church Anglican in Savannah, where he enjoyed the lector readings and served on the vestry.
To learn more about his life, his faith and his love of art please listen to his recent interview on the Missio Savannah podcast.
Mark is survived by his wife, Marcia Lynn nee Snider; son Aaron Douglas Johnson, partner Hannah Bryant and grandson James; daughter Katharine Kyle Powell, son-in-law Andrew Powell with grandchildren Jack, Ben and Ellie; daughter Elizabeth Cundiff McConaghy with grandson Keyon; one brother Lynn Hughes Johnson and wife Sally nee Sperring; Sister-in-law Karen Cole Johnson; John Hunter Walker, first cousin and life-long friend and John’s wife Marcia Jean Walker, nee Verville; four other first cousins Victoria Cundiff Smith, Allen Johnson, Cindy Johnson, Greg Johnson, and one uncle, David Lewis Johnson; a nephew, three nieces, one grand nephew, three grand nieces and many more second and third cousins.
Mark is predeceased by his parents, Martin Douglas Johnson and Francis Cundiff Johnson, one younger brother Peterson Martin Johnson and beloved cousins, Russell Hughes Walker and Stewart Walker.
Burial will be at a private service at the Greenwich Extension of Bonaventure Cemetery.
A celebration of life service and reception will be held at Christ Church Anglican, 2020 Bull Street, on Saturday, February 24th, to allow family members time to return from overseas. The service will begin at 1:00pm, followed by the reception.
Mark loved flowers. He would be honored by donations to the Christ Church Flower Guild, Christ Church Anglican, 2020 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401.
Dr. Johnson was such a great leader at Gateway. He will be truly missed.
- Linda Futch, Hinesville, Georgia
My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
- Catherine Thompson, Brunswick, GA
My deepest condolences to the wife and family of a great individual and leader. It was an honor to have worked with him and have had him in my life. God Bless.
- Stephen Schmidt, Hinesville, GA
I had many wonderful interactions with Dr. Johnson. He showed us what a true leader should be! Our thoughts and prayers are with you!
- Mary Meeks, Savannah, Georgia
Words can't express how much he meant to me and Gateway. He was always kind and had a tue passion for his work. It was an honor to know and work with him. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
- Heather Ott, Brunswick, GEORGIA
I was so sorry to hear the news of our beloved Dr. Johnson's sudden passing. He will be missed by so many here @ Gateway. He has helped this organization and its staff in so many ways. As well as the communities it serves. I am privileged to have known him. Prayers to Dr. J's wife and other family during this time of grieving. I will always remember everything he's done for me and my family while here at the company. His memory will live on forever! I found a piece of artwork regarding grief and thought it would be fitting. So uploading it here. God bless. -Andrew C.
- Andrew C., Brunswick, GA
Dr. Johnson was always kind and patient with me. So thankful for our Gateway Christmas Ball on Jekyll Island this year.. as he supported the celebration and was a major catalyst for development and approval of the event. Prayers to the family, hopes for love and calming reflections.
- James Rowe, Hortense, Georgia
I thank Mark for his support of our Linkage research project. This project has faced enormous obstacles during the past few years so having a supporter like Mark is especially important. The scientific community will forever thank Mark for connecting our study with the Gateway community.
- En Fu, New York City, New York
We are all sad for your loss and will keep you in sympathy and prayer. Dr. Johnson had such vision for Gateway and moved us forward. He was insightful, a great teacher/mentor, had wonderful humor and was so kind to everyone. Dr. Johnson will be missed enormously.
- Karen Morrison, Savannah, GA
We are so lucky to have had Dr. Johnson as an attending and a mentor in our Psychiatry residency. Always excited to teach and share his experiences and expertise with all of us! Incredible advocate for every patient. It has been a great gift to get to know him and his family.
- Aleksandra Grabb , Savannah, Georgia
My prayers and condolences to the Johnson family and love ones. Dr. Johnson left his stamp in the Mental Health community and may his work live on.
- Nikisha Burton, Savannah, Georgia
Deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Johnson. He will be missed. We at Chatham Clubhouse appreciated him in every way. He was fair, compassionate and an awesome human being.
- Cynthia Wells, Savannah, Georgia
Prayers for the family may God give you the strength to continue his beautiful legacy. I have only had the honor to know Dr. Johnson for 3 years. In this short time, I have learned so much. He will truly be missed.
- Chanda Patrick, Savannah, Georgia
Dr. Johnson was an integral part of Gateway in everyway. His guidance and inspiration for the health and wellbeing of those suffering with mental illness is most prevalent in our hearts and minds, because he was such and advocate. He will be greatly missed! There will be a hole in the soul of Gateway that will be difficult to fill. Our condolences to his family!
- Portia Jackson, Savannah , GA
The realization of Dr. Johnson's vision has and will positively affect so so many. I thank God and his family for sharing him with all of us. The wake of his passing will continue for years to come.
- Vernon Jackson, Savannah, Georgia
Pioneer and lifetime mentor. Example as a leader as well as a psychiatrist. Learning his passion and value always inspires me of my own. He helped me so much and will always live in my memory.
- Xiang You, Savannah, GA
I had the luxury of working with Dr. Johnson through his appointment to the Governors Behavioral Health Commission. He was a true thought leader, while also bringing his jovial, kind, engaging spirit to every conversation. I've learned so much just from being in his presence. I'm so grateful I had the chance to work with and learn from him. My condolences to his family, friends and coworkers. Our state will continue to feel his impact for years and years to come and he will be missed so much.
- Emily Anne Vall, Atlanta, GA
I would like to send my condolences to the family at this very hard time. I am currently an employee for Gateway Behavioral Health in Brunswick Ga. I want to send my thoughts and prayers and to say thank you for all that Mr. Johnson has done. I was given the opportunity to be apart of his empire and I can not thank him enough. The help and new beginnings that is being provided to individuals in this place is phenomenal. May God continue to cover your family.
- Evanie Robinson, Brunswick, Ga
So sorry for the loss of doctor Johnson praying for you and your family.
- Tammy Folder, Clyo, Ga
It was a pleasure to meet and get to know Dr. Johnson. His passion for teaching and caring for patients was clearly evident to anyone who had any meaningful discussions with him. Such a great loss to the medical community at large. My sincere condolences to your family.
- Angela Hale, Macon, Georgia
We are saddened by Mark’s passing. What a wonderful, positive, deeply spiritual man! My Sundays at church were always brightened by his smile. I did listen to the podcast he did on Missio Savannah. I had spoken with Mark months ago at our local Publix and he had already told me his vision of his activity calendar in heaven - surfing! I can’t wait to see Mark when I get there - if he’s not too busy hitting the waves. To God be the glory.
- Susan Moore, Savannah, GA
Mark was a brilliant and wonderful person, a devoted Christian, and my friend. I will miss him. My deepest condolences to his wife, Marcia, and the rest of his family.
- Russ MacDonald, Richmond Hill, GA
Mark's life and work were a witness to his faith in Jesus. Our loss is heavens gain as I am sure he is with his savior hearing those wonderful words, "Well done good and faithful servant." It was our great joy to have Mark and Marcia in our bible study as we studied the scriptures together. His insights deepened our understanding. Mark will be missed by me and Emily as well as the whole of Christ Church.
- Warren A and Emily S Thrasher, Savannah, Georgia
My condolences to the family. Dr. Johnson was highly innovative and always a step ahead. I'm certain he will remain a part of Gateway and the lives of those who worked with him for years to come.
- Sharon Garland, Atlanta, Georgia
My sincere condolences to the family. Dr. Johnson was truly a wonderful man. He was very passionate and caring about everyone and had a great vision for the future. I valued him as a leader, friend and mentor. He will be missed greatly.
- David Williams, Pembroke, Georgia
Dr. Mark Johnson a truly, compassionate, kind man who shared his vision with those he met and kind words. Dr. Johnson will be missed tremendously. May the Lord thy God comfort each of you during this time.
- Shelia Brown , Savannah , Georgia
Words cannot express my sorrow losing a great friend, mentor and teacher that I was privileged to know for over 20 years. Dr. Johnson was one of the kindest, caring and compassionate psychiatrist I ever knew. He was source of inspiration for the people he crossed his path with. He belonged to Heaven and came to earth to touch so many lives. Marcia and family are in our thoughts and prayers.
- Asif Qaisrani, Chesterfield , MO
My heartfelt condolences to Mark's family and all his other family by choice. He has left a deep impression on us, and I know he will be missed by us all. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
- Sherry L Prior, Liberia, Costa Rica
My introduction to Mark was with a long walk in Harare, Zimbabwe. He answered my questions about psychology and asked thought-provoking questions. This led to my exploration of a career in psychology. He served as a guide to further my education while living in Cincinnati. He helped me decided where to go to graduate school and pointed out that Texas (where I ended up) really isn’t too much further from Harare (where my parents lived). I’m forever grateful for his influence…it was just what I needed at the right time. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I look forward to go on another walk with him, one day, to let him know how it all turned out.
- Daniel Altman, Mansfield, TX
My deepest condolences, I worked with Mark thru the GACSB Association, and he was a strong leader and led the way in many innovative areas. He was always willing to help out in any way he could. He will be missed.
- Robert James Hurn, Thomasville, GA
We have lost a great man in Dr Mark Johnson. True professional and wonderful individual. His lasting legacy will be the Psychiatry Residency Program that he established at Gateway. Rest In Peace.
- Mike deVegter, Savannah, Ga
I want to send my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Dr. Johnson. We have lost a great and genuine leader at Gateway. He always had a smile to share. His presence will be missed but all of the great memories will forever be etched in our hearts. His vision focused on moving forward for the good of the people. Thank you to his family for sharing Dr. Johnson with us. God Bless You all and may you find comfort in the joy he left in your hearts.
- Putula Paulk, Guyton, Georgia
I was honored to meet Mark. A wonderful person with a pure heart and an excellent neighbor too. My deepest condolences to Marcia and all the loved ones.
- Daniela Luisi, Jacksonville , FL
My condolences to the Johnson family...May God continue to watch over The Johnson family and continue to carry them through these hard times. God Bless
- Candis W., Savannah, GA
A candle has been lit! My deepest condolences. We have lost a great psychiatrist, a strong leader and best of all a wonderful human being. I worked with Dr. Johnson very closely in establishing the Psychiatry Residency Program with Mercer University and Gateway. He will be greatly missed. Rest In Peace.
- Reemon Bishara, SAVANNAH, GA
May comfort and love uplift you during this difficult time. Dr. Johnson was an awesome CEO to Gateway Community Service Board. Gone but never forgotten.
- Sandra "Kay" Williams, Brunswick, GA
If I had to describe Dr. Johnson with one word, it would be “hope-giving”. His friendship and mentorship have been life-changing and gave me so much hope for the future of our community and my own. Losing him has been very difficult. And then night I had a dream in which he came to me to say goodbye. In that dream I gave him a hug and said, “I hope you know you were loved.” Even after death he continues to provide comfort and hope that everything will be alright.
- Vira Salzburn, Savannah, GA
Dr. Johnson was a great partner to me over the years, and a great friend to advancing child and adolescent behavioral health. He is missed.
- Dante McKay, Atlanta, Georgia