Beloved LSU athletics publicist Bud Johnson passes away at age 88

Bud Johnson

Longtime LSU publicist Marvin L. “Bud” Johnson, who was a part of the LSU staff for its 1958 football national championship and the Pete Maravich basketball era, passed away Sunday at the age of 88.

Johnson for the last several years has been a vital part of many LSU and SEC/ESPN driven documentaries and stories as a historian on sports at LSU and in Louisiana.

Johnson was born in New Orleans and was a graduate of then Southeastern Louisiana College.

By the age of 16, he was writing a sports column that was available in not one but both weekly papers in Ponchatoula. His sports public relations work began at the age of 18 as he served as sports publicist for Southeastern Louisiana from 1952-56 while attending college.

Johnson was hired by LSU Athletics Director Jim Corbett as Assistant Sports Publicity Director on Feb. 1, 1958. He arrived just prior to one of the most important football seasons at the time in LSU history as the Tigers went undefeated and were named the consensus national champions.

From 1966-71, he was the LSU Sports Information Director, which included the three years of varsity basketball in which Maravich became the game’s all-time Division I career scorer and took the Tigers in his senior season of 1970 to the NIT in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

During his career, Johnson promoted 10 All-America selections at LSU including George Bevan, Mike Anderson, Ronnie Estay, Tommy Casanova and Maravich, along with one national coach of the year, Charles McClendon.

Johnson’s LSU football magazine won CoSIDA’s national award for excellence in 1969. Johnson also authored a chapter in the NCAA Public Relations Manual on game programs and served as president of the SEC Sports Publicity Director’s Association.

Johnson left LSU in November of 1971 to serve in a public relations capacity for a major airline, and served as public relations director for the New Orleans Jazz when the NBA granted an expansion franchise to New Orleans prior to the 1974-75 season.

He also served as Tulane’s first assistant athletic director for marketing and promotion in 1977. He helped Tulane establish attendance records in football, leading the NCAA in increased attendance in 1979. His promotional activity helped set a Major League Baseball record for exhibition game attendance in 1981 when Tulane brought the New York Yankees to the Superdome for an exhibition series.

After leaving Tulane, he became an independent marketing and public relations consultant in 1986, working in political campaigns and special event promotion.

Johnson was named winner of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and earned membership in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Most recently, Johnson served as Director of the Jack and Priscilla Andonie Museum at LSU and as writer for the school’s Alumni Association magazine. He was the author of the book “Perfect Season: LSU’s Magic Year – 1958, which was published in 2007.

He was survived by his wife of 61 years, Evelyn Bankston Johnson, his daughter, Marsha Johnson Ferguson, his son-in-law Scott Ferguson and two grandchildren, Brady Ferguson and Emily “Lee” Ferguson. He is also survived by his sister, Sandra Johnson Dugan, a niece Laura Dugan, and a grandniece Camille Null as well as numerous cousins.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 11th at 10 a.m. at Saint Alban’s Chapel, 11 Dalrymple Drive, Baton Rouge. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Saint Alban’s Chapel, Baton Rouge, LA.

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