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Jay Johnson dies of heart attack

Former Mint Director Jay W. Johnson died of a heart attack Oct. 17 at his home in suburban Washington, D.C., at the age of 66.

He served as head of the nation’s coinage factories for just a brief time in 2000-2001, but it was during this period when the working mints were running three shifts a day to keep up with soaring national coin demand due in part to a strong economy and to the overwhelming popularity of the state quarter program, which had begun in 1999.

Johnson became a familiar figure at the nation’s coin shows both during and after his tenure.

In a message to Mint employees, Mint Director Ed Moy said, “Jay presided over the United States Mint during a peak period for coin production.  While he was 36th Director of the United States Mint, the bureau produced 26 billion coins (Fiscal Year 2000-2001), and transferred $2.6 billion to the United States Treasury in seigniorage and numismatic sales income.”

Moy also expressed his deepest sympathies to the family.

Johnson had a deep resonant voice that served him well as a television news anchor in the Green Bay, Wis., and other markets in a 32-year career.

His resulting prominence helped him win election to Congress in 1998 from Wisconsin’s 8th congressional district, but he did not win re-election.

His voice is also the recorded sound of the self-guided tour of the Bass gold coin collection at the headquarters of the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Following the conclusion of his time as Mint director, Johnson worked as a consultant in the numismatic field. He recently became the public face of Goldline International where he spoke of the appeal of gold as an investment.

Johnson was a native of Bessemer, which is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and he was fond of talking about his background as a Yooper, as residents of that part of the state are nicknamed.

Johnson is survived by his wife, JoLee.

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