John Johnson’s family tree has deep IUP roots.
“I’m proud that so many of my relatives attended, graduated from, and were on the faculty at IUP,” said Johnson ’72, M’73, who taught at the University School for about seventeen years before becoming its director and then the associate dean for Teacher Education for the College of Education. Now retired, Johnson has served as president of the board of directors for the IUP Research Institute for the past five years.
Among the students he taught at the University School were two of his three daughters, Tonya Johnson Long and Leeann Johnson. The third daughter, Jane Johnson Smith, attended the school when he was its director.
Having family on campus was nothing new to Johnson. The Johnson family tree includes more than forty IUP alumni, many of them also professors.
The earliest graduates on the list are the late Florence Lohr Johnson ’21 and the late Gladys Ayers Lohr ’21, both aunts of John Johnson. The two were college roommates on the fourth floor of John Sutton Hall and later became sisters-in-law.
John Johnson, who was from Somerset, was fortunate to have family living near campus. While he was a student, he stayed with his sister, the late Jean Johnson Slenker ’53, and her husband, the late Robert Slenker ’52, who each taught for many years in the Art Department.
From left: John Johnson, Janice Reddecliff Johnson, Naomi Kipp, Donald McKelvey, and Katherine Kipp McKelvey on the East Porch of John Sutton Hall (Keith Boyer)
A lot of the names on his family tree share the last name Kipp. A first cousin of Johnson’s, Naomi Kipp remembers making many treks across the Oak Grove as a child on her way to Keith School, the “model school” once housed in Keith Hall that was the predecessor to the University School in Davis. At the age of twelve, she was asked to play cello with the IUP Symphony Orchestra.
As an adult, she earned three IUP degrees: a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1960, a master’s degree in Music in 1982, and a bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 1985. IUP is part of her life, even in her retirement. “I really enjoy, now, being able to go to programs on campus,” said Kipp, who often attends recitals for Music majors who sing with her church choir.
Over the years, Johnson sometimes visited Kipp’s parents, his aunt and uncle, the late Marian and Orval Kipp. Marian Kipp, who was a Mathematics professor at IUP, and Johnson’s father, the late Ernest Johnson, were sister and brother.
Orval Kipp led the IUP Art Department for many years and retired as its chair. Kipp Gallery in Sprowls Hall is named after him. Though he had earlier earned three degrees, he spent some of his retirement earning a Master of Fine Arts degree from IUP in 1992.
Johnson’s cousin, Katherine Kipp McKelvey ’81, Naomi Kipp’s sister, taught in the Mathematics and Computer Science departments. Her husband, Donald McKelvey, taught in the Chemistry Department.
Another of Johnson’s cousins was his professor for a World Religions class. John Kipp, Naomi Kipp’s brother, was an assistant minister who helped the Philosophy Department establish the curriculum for Religious Studies.
Though the names McKelvey and Kipp sprout up often on Johnson’s IUP family tree, it also includes the names Brockunier, Smith, Reddecliff, and others.
The Reddecliffs join the list by way of Johnson’s wife, Janice Reddecliff Johnson ’81. Her first cousin David Reddecliff ’82 was a Political Science major while at IUP. He served on the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors for a number of years and was its president.
Reddecliff had also been active with the Alumni Association chapter in Harrisburg, where he works for the majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 2008, he received the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award.
“I enjoyed my years at IUP completely,” Reddecliff said. “I’m so glad I was able to serve on the alumni board.”
While the Johnson list includes a lot of extended family, Charles Godlasky and his wife, Mary Ann, can claim seven IUP graduates just by naming their children: Barbara Godlasky Staff ’74, M’79, Patricia Godlasky Zacour ’75, Thomas Godlasky ’77, Lawrence Godlasky ’79, Karen Godlasky Baker ’79, Mary Godlasky ’84, and Richard Godlasky ’84.
Charles Godlasky taught Physical Education at IUP for twenty-three years and was chair of the department for men, in the days the department was divided. He also served as assistant football coach for many years. His seven children chose a variety of majors. Lawrence Godlasky graduated with a degree in Economics, an education he said served him well.
“I took a class at IUP with my brother, Tom, and we sat next to each other,” he said. “That was a nice experience—to have him, as an older brother, want me to sit next to him.”
With their father’s coaching role, the Godlasky children were sure to be found at the IUP football games. They would see each other there and, after the game, head to the family home, where their mother made a big meal for everyone.
“Overall, it was a great college experience,” Lawrence Godlasky said.
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