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Katherine Johnson to be remembered at library exhibit in White Sulphur Springs

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — White Sulphur Springs native Katherine Johnson will be remembered at the town’s public library this upcoming week.

The White Sulphur Springs Public Library is holding a special exhibit from March 9-14 to remember Johnson’s life as a pioneer and NASA mathematician. Johnson passed away on February 24 at the age of 101.

Joann Hartzell, the Director of White Sulphur Springs Public Library said Johnson had a tremendous amount of gifts including a strong family and the unique ability to do math.

Katherine Johnson working for NASA in 1966.

“She used them for the betterment of the society she was born into. Even though the society didn’t always value her as a woman and an African American woman,” Hartzell said.

The library sits in the Katherine Coleman Johnson Building. The exhibit will show pictures from her long life in both regular form and on a large-screen television.

According to Hartzell, exhibit attendees will also have an opportunity to record their thoughts on Johnson in a notebook. The notebook will then be turned over to her family.

“She (Johnson) very graciously came to visit us a few years ago, allowed us to name the building in her honor and we just feel that even though physically she is not with us she needs to be remembered,” Hartzell said.

Johnson is the recipient of many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Part of her work at NASA was shown in the movie and book, “Hidden Figures.”

She was a native of White Sulphur Springs, but due to segregation in the 1930s was unable to attend high school in Greenbrier County. She attended a high school program at West Virginia State College in Kanawha County.

Johnson completed her undergraduate degree at the institution, which is now known at West Virginia State University.

The exhibit will run during normal business hours Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. It’s being displayed in the Joshua McKinley Coleman Community Room, which is named after her father.

Hartzell said the library may push for a standing exhibit for Johnson.

“I think it would be wonderful if we could do a standing exhibit but that would mean having to probably add on to the library,” she said.

More information on the exhibit is available by calling the library at 304 536-1171.

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