Bernett L. Johnson Jr., 76, a dermatologist, a retired Navy captain, and an artist, died of duodenal cancer last Friday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was senior medical officer.
Dr. Johnson was also a professor of dermatology and associate dean for diversity and community outreach at the Penn School of Medicine. From 1995 until 2006, he was associate dean for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Philadelphia, where many of Penn's medical personnel train.
He received several honors, including the Services to the Sciences Award from the NAACP and the Physicians Recognition Award from the American Medical Society, and was selected as practitioner of the year by the National Medical Association in 1993.
In 2005, Dr. Johnson received the Edward S. Cooper Humanitarian Award, presented to a physician who has made significant contributions in the Philadelphia area. On that occasion, Garry Scheib, chief operating officer of the Penn Health System, said: "Bernie represents the heart and soul of HUP. It's a privilege to work with him every day."
Dr. Johnson, a recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1997, reserved every Tuesday afternoon for his students, said his wife, Mary-Martha Waldo Johnson. Recently, Penn School of Medicine dermatology residents announced the establishment of the Dr. Bernett Johnson Award for Teaching, to be given to a faculty member who has contributed to the education of residents in a caring, professional manner.
Dr. Johnson saw the culmination of his work as associate dean for diversity and community outreach in 2007 with the opening of the Sayre Health Center, his wife said. The center, in Sayre High School in West Philadelphia, provides clinical services to neighborhood residents and educational opportunities to Sayre High School students.
Dr. Johnson grew up in Richmond, Va., where he won a scholarship in a science fair. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology at Virginia Union University in Richmond and a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville.
In 1958, Dr. Johnson was commissioned in the Navy Medical Corps. While in the military, he completed an internship at Hurley Hospital in Flint, Mich., and a residency in dermatology at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, and did postgraduate studies in dermatology at Penn and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington. He later was stationed in Philadelphia, Boston, and San Diego, and completed two tours of duty in Japan.
After retiring from the Navy in 1980, Dr. Johnson joined a practice in Glenside and was associate chairman of dermatology at Graduate Hospital. He joined the Penn faculty in 1984, and was interim chairman of the dermatology department from 1993 to 1995.
He was a member of several professional organizations, served on the National Board of Medical Examiners, and co-edited an edition of the textbook Lever's Histopathology of the Skin.
Dr. Johnson began painting in 1968, and several of his portraits of faculty members are exhibited at Penn. His work also was shown at the Penn Faculty Club and the annual Gracie Mansion Art Exhibit in New York. He won first prize at an art show sponsored by the American Medical Association, and a "best of show" at an American Academy of Dermatology art exhibition.
In addition to his wife of 27 years, Dr. Johnson is survived by sons Brian, Keith, and Logan; a daughter, Susan; four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and his former wife, Barbara W. Johnson.
Friends may call from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and next Friday at the Givnish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Rd., and from 8 to 9 a.m. April 18 in the Grand Ballroom at Normandy Farms, Route 202 and Morris Road, Blue Bell, before a 9:30 funeral there. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center Memorial Fund, payable to Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, 3535 Market St., Philadelphia 19104.