2018 Champions

Dr. Johnnie W. Jones, Jr.

Johnnie Jones

“I’m not just going to sit around in a rocker simply because I’m 83 years old.”


On December 14, 2018, at age 83, Johnnie W. Jones, Jr. earned his Ph.D. When he was just a kid – a sixth grader – he dropped out of school to help support his family. He later joined the United States Marines, where learned how education brings opportunity. He’s been chasing knowledge ever since.

He took night classes to get his high school diploma. When he was deployed to Vietnam, he took correspondence courses with LSU. Stateside after two tours, Johnnie was able to complete his bachelor’s degree in sociology and then get a master’s degree in social work. He started to go for his Ph.D., but he had kids, and an opportunity for a career that would provide better for them. The doctorate would have to wait.

He worked for nearly 30 years for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. When he retired he started after a doctorate for a second time. He now has a Ph.D. in human ecology.

Johnnie says “age should not impede your dreams.” Besides higher education, he has wanted to be a musician since he was a teenager – so he took up the saxophone at age 65. You’re never too old. That said, Johnnie works hard at keeping himself young. He runs three to five miles at a time and does push-ups in sets of 70, jumping jacks by the 100. He says “as long as you’re physically and mentally fit, you should keep pushing.”

For all the people who see education as a route to a career, that’s not Johnnie’s goal. Not anymore. He simply wants to learn more. There’s knowledge out there, and he wants it. Right now he has three more degrees in his sights: law, a master’s in history and a masters in philosophy.

They say Ph.D.’s are awarded to those who advance the knowledge in their field. By returning to school to get his Ph.D., Johnnie Jones has advanced our understanding that age is no excuse for giving up on dreams. In fact, age and experience often give us greater ability to accomplish our goals and achieve our dreams.

Dr. Johnnie Jones is an inspiration to anyone who has ever thought their age put their dreams out of reach.

Dr. Johnnie W. Jones, Jr. … Peoples Health Champion