John “Archie” Johnsonson (August 23, 1922 – December 24, 2022)
Archie Johnson has been an active member of the Back Bay Wildfowl Guild, Inc. since 1976, has served on its board of directors, and was the Guild’s president in 1987. A Virginia Native, Archie grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, and has resided in Virginia Beach since the 1960s. He graduated from Maury High School (Class of ’40) and attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute. His college education was interrupted by World War II. He served in the United States Army as an airplane mechanic on the Boeing model B-29 Superfortress.
Upon his discharge from the Army, he returned to school at
the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University
of Pennsylvania where he earned a master’s degree in Business Administration. He co-founded Cavalier
Clothes with his father and worked as a traveling clothing salesman. By the early 1970s Cavalier Clothes
evolved into a screen-printing business in which Archie and his son, Johnny, incorporated as Cavalier
Sportswear and to this day is still a successful family business.
Archie’s most notable contributions to the local Virginia and North Carolina areas are within the waterfowl
communities. Stemming from his time working on his high school yearbook and newspaper, his passion for
photography eventually showcased various waterfowl, the areas in which they live, and the people who pursue
them. He became interested in Waterfowl photography in the 1970s which developed into an interest in hunting
with a camera as well as with a gun.
His waterfowl and hunting photographs have been displayed for many
years at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland; the Mid-Atlantic Wildfowl Festival in Virginia Beach,
Virginia; and at the Currituck Wildlife Festival in Currituck, North Carolina. Archie’s photography, photo
essays, and/or articles on vintage decoys have appeared in Decoy Magazine, Ducks Unlimited magazine, Gray’s
Sporting Journal, Virginia Wildlife, Wildfowl Art magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina, and in newspapers and
museums in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Archie and longtime friend, Bud Coppedge, wrote and
published Gun Clubs & Decoys of Back Bay and Currituck Sound in 1991. A few years later Archie wrote and
published Canvas Decoys of North America. Both books represent the great knowledge and respect Archie had
for antique decoys and the culture within duck hunting that is unique to our local area. In addition to his
photography, Archie also enjoyed collecting and restoring antique decoys. Many of his refurbished works have
made their way to decoy collections all over the country. Archie was 100 years old.