TDR staff member dies at 32, after 15 years at American University
Anthony Johnson remembered as passionate and kind by co-workers and family
Update: This article has been updated with an explanation for why AU has yet to comment.
TDR staff member Anthony Johnson came to work each day for 15 years with a smile on his face. On May 28, Johnson unexpectedly passed away at the age of 32.
Following his father, Anthony Randolph, who is also a food service worker at AU, Johnson started working at AU when he was 18. Randolph said it inspired him to see his son grow into a great leader.
“His passion was to really take care of students, [by] whatever means necessary,” Randolph said. “Whatever he had to do to accommodate them and make them feel at home.”
Mary Soto, a former Bon Appétit executive chef who worked at AU for seven years, said that Johnson was one of the most respectful employees she ever managed. Whenever she needed something done, she said she could always count on Johnson.
To Soto, the food service workers were a family. She said she kept in close contact with Randolph and Johnson after leaving AU, since they had become part of her daily life.
“I remember when Tony got his first car,” Soto said. “Everybody was so excited and we ran out there to see his car, and Smoke [Randolph’s nickname] was all excited for him.”
Randolph said many of the employees treated Johnson as their own child since he was younger than many of the workers. TDR staff member Alvesta Richardson agreed, saying that she called him her “little son.” Despite his age, both agreed that Johnson got along well with everyone and worked hard without ever blinking an eye.
When Johnson wasn’t working, Randolph said he loved spending time with his 14-year-old daughter and going to church. He also liked watching sports, especially his favorite team the Dallas Cowboys.
“He went to church on a regular basis and was involved with the community, making sure the younger generations, the younger kids, really had an outlet,” Randolph said.
Randolph said the support from students and his co-workers at AU has been overwhelming. A GoFundMe fundraiser was created to help with funeral costs.
Students were not notified of Johnson’s death, just as they were not notified of the death of TDR staff member Anthony Beagle last year.
AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess said in an email that the University will not comment without receiving notification and approval from Johnson's family members.