MANATEE -- New College of Florida is mourning the loss of one of its board of trustees, former state Sen. Bob Johnson, who died Monday.
"Bob Johnson was an extraordinary human being, and I was privileged to count him as a friend," New College President Don O'Shea said in a news release. "His was an incredible life, well-lived. He was a force of nature, and the college owes its continued strength and existence to him. Those who love New College loved him, and all of us are in mourning. He will not be forgotten."
Johnson, a state legislator for 16 years, died a day before his 81st birthday.
In 2001, Johnson was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees, "when New College was designated a member of the State University System and the honors college for the arts and sciences of the State of Florida," according to the release.
Johnson served as chairman of the board from 2001-07 and 2010-12.
Professor Gordon "Mike" Michalson, former president of New College, said Johnson was "steadfast in his support of New College."
"His love of this place seemed to grow over the years," Michalson said in the release. "His connections with Florida's wider political culture were invaluable to us when New College became independent in 2001. ...I 'll always be immensely grateful for his support during some challenging transitional times."
In 2011, the college honored Johnson with a sculpture of its "Four Winds" symbol. New College is planning a memorial for Johnson, according to the release.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.