Education administrator and accountant Harry George Johns was born on December 7, 1921 in Alliance, Ohio to Iona Huskey Johns and Ewing James from Springfield, Tennessee. He attended Seneca Elementary School and graduated from Alliance High School in 1939. In 1940, Johns enrolled at Wilberforce College where he was a member of the school’s ROTC program and a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. In 1943, Johns volunteered for the United States Army and completed basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After receiving artillery training, Johns attended infantry school at Fort Bennie near Columbus, Georgia.
In 1944, Johns became apart of the attachment to General Patton’s Third Army and helped allied forces break through German lines of defense at Saint Lo. One day, after fighting in battle, Johns and his regiment faced false accusations of rape by an elderly German woman. During his time overseas, Johns later experienced similar racist practices while majoring in accounting and business management at the Sheringham American University in Sheringham, England.
In 1946, Johns returned to the U.S. and re-enrolled at Wilberforce College. He graduated with his B.S. degree in accounting in 1947 and went on to attend Columbia University in New York City, where he graduated with his M.A. degree in 1949. That same year, Johns was hired as the assistant bursar at Central State University. In 1951, he was promoted to the position of university controller and also became a founding board member of the Central State University federal credit union. Johns was promoted to business manager of Central State University in 1955, and in 1959, he became the vice president of fiscal affairs and the director of physical and future planning. Johns later served as dean of the college of business at Central State University from 1972 until 1977.
Later, Johns founded H.D. Johns Associates and began providing educational management services. In 1970, he became a member of Xenia Rotary Club and served as the club’s first black president in 1974. Johns has received various awards and recognitions including the Central State University College of Business Administration Alumnus Award, the Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce Award and the PAL of the Year Award. Johns is also recognized through Central State University’s Dr. Harry G. Johns Scholarship.
Johns was interviewed by the The History Makers on February 27, 2008.