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Jessica "Judy" Grimm Johnson

Born on 6-19-1909. She was born in Lexington, KY. She was accomplished in the area of Politics. She later died on 9-21-2003.
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A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Jessica (Judy) Grimm was born on June 19,1909. She was the only daughter of Marcellus and Mary Burbridge Grimm. She was an infant when her parents moved to Clifton, Ohio. Mrs. Johnson attended and graduated from the public schools in Clifton. She relocated to Buffalo, New York with her husband Ralph Johnson in 1937.

Described as a pioneer in the political arenas of Buffalo City Hall and New York State Democratic politics, Mrs. Johnson's interest in politics was kindled when she served as the assistant campaign manager for Bishop Ormonde Walker. Bishop Walker campaigned as a Democratic candidate for the Ellicott Council District. In 1957, Mrs. Johnson's friend, Cora P. Maloney, was elected as the first African American female member of the Common Council of Buffalo. Mrs. Johnson served as Mrs. Maloney's secretary. Later, she served as the secretary to Delmar L. Mitchell, a future Common Council President. In 1963, Mrs. Johnson was elected Assistant Secretary of the Democratic State Committee.

In 1966, Mrs. Johnson moved to the executive branch of city government. She served as Director of the License Bureau, the first female to hold that position. Soon after she accepted a position as the confidential aide to then Mayor Frank A. Sedita. Again, she was a first: the first female and the first African American to serve in the Mayor's inner Cabinet. In 1968 Mrs. Johnson edged out, by one vote, Arthur O. Eve now former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, for election as Chairperson of the 13th Zone Democratic Committee.

She achieved statewide prominence in the Democratic Party hierarchy, in 1973 when she became the Assistant Treasurer of the State Democratic Committee. Three years later, she was elected the First Vice Chairman of that body. She became the first black and first woman to hold the post of state party chairwoman when she assumed the position after the indictment of the then party chairman, Patrick J. Cunningham.

Mayor Stanley M. Makowski appointed her as Buffalo City Treasurer in 1976. She was the first black female to fill this post. In 1977 Mrs. Johnson retired from government service. However, she continued to volunteer in the community, acting as Executive Director of 1490 Enterprises, Inc. for a period of time.

A member of Bethel AME Church since shortly after her move to Buffalo, Mrs. Johnson was a member of the Usher Board, The Walker Willing Workers, Laymen's Association and the Jewletts. She received numerous honors including the Black Achiever's Award in 1975, the Evans-Young Award for community service from the Buffalo Urban League, in 1985 and the Appreciation Award of the Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs in 1976.

Mrs. Johnson's husband and two sons Jesse and Edward preceded her in death. Her long and productive live ended in September 2003, at the age of 94.

She is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.