Tech mourns deaths of two professors this year


Both Dr. Annette Zakharian and Dr. George Johnson passed away this academic year.

Dr. Annette Zakharian, professor of French, passed away on March 17, according to, world languages department news.

Zakharian began serving on Tech Faculty in 1984.

Dr. Nelson Ramirez, coordinator of world languages and associate professor of Spanish, first met Zakharian on Tech campus in March 2005.

“Since the fall 2005 semester on, Annette was a great colleague from whom I literally learned valuable pieces of knowledge,” Ramirez said in an email.

Ramirez said one of the many things about her that he will remember is the basil leaves from her garden that she shared with him.

“Dr. Annette Zakharian’s colleagues and the many generations of students of French and Latin will always remember her,” Ramirez said.

Patricia Joselin, Spanish instructor, said Zakharian was very intelligent.

“She was outstanding and very involved in the Arkansas Foreign Language Teaching Association,” Joselin said.

She was a very sharing and very smart woman, Joselin said.

Dr. George Johnson’s saying of “plants don’t bleed” was what ultimately started his love for botany while in school, Terry Johnson, Johnson’s wife, said.

“George was interested in both birds and plants while earning his degrees,” his wife said.

Johnson would often get faint at the sight of blood, his wife said. This factor is what made him decide to study plants, his wife said.

Dr. George Johnson, associate professor of biology and curator of the herbarium, served on the Tech faculty from 1990 until his passing in December 2015, according to

Everyone is invited to help plant a butterfly garden in memory of Johnson on April 9 from 12-4 p.m.

The garden will be planted in front of McEver Hall.

There will also be a memorial service on April 29 for anyone who would like to share a memory of Johnson.

Dr. Charles Gagen, interim fish and wildlife program director, was a colleague of Johnson’s from 1990 until the time of his passing.

“He spent his career sharing his understanding and enthusiasm for all things related to plants,” Gagen said.

Gagen is the lead on the planting of the memorial garden and the 

memorial service that will be held for Johnson.

“I want to contribute in some way that will keep his memory very alive and very close to the plants he cared about,” Gagen said.

Johnson appreciated butterflies and the relationship between native plants and animals, Gagen said.

The garden will consist of some of his favorite plants and a small tree to attract some butterflies and birds.

There will also be seating, tables and a memorial plaque.

“We expect that students, faculty and alumni will help make this a reality and relax in this garden area while appreciating the diversity and biological activity,” Gagen said.

Cynthia Dixon, administrative specialist I, said everyone misses him very much.

“He was such a kind and compassionate man,” Dixon said.