Quick information about Late Katherine Johnson. How her first husband died?

101 years old Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson was an American mathematician whose orbital mechanics calculations as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent crewed spaceflights in the United States. Well, this article is all about the Katherine Johnson childhood, Katherine Johnson husband (s), Katherine Johnson family and Her career in NASA.

She died on 24 February 2020. NASA administrator James Bridenstine said,

“Our NASA family is sad to learn the news that Katherine Johnson passed away this morning at the age of 101. She was an American hero, and will never forget her pioneering legacy.”

She earned a reputation for performing complex manual calculations during her 35-year tenure at NASA and its predecessor, and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks. The space agency acknowledged its “historical role as one of the first women from Africa to serve as a NASA scientist.”

Born: Aug. 26, 1918
Died: Feb. 24, 2020
Husband: James Francis Goble (1st husband), James A. Johnson (2nd husband)
Hometown: White Sulphur Springs, WV
Education: B.S., Mathematics and French, West Virginia State College, 1937
Hired by NACA: June 1953
Retired from NASA: 1986

Husband and family of Katherine Coleman Johnson

Katherine wed James Francis Goble in 1939. They had three daughters: Constance, Katherine and Joylette. She and James moved their family to Newport News in 1953 to pursue new employment opportunities. James Goble died in 1956 from an inoperable brain tumor. In 1959 Katherine Goble remarried James A. Johnson, a U.S. Army officer, and a Korean War veteran.

 Katherine Johnson with husband James Francis
Katherine Johnson with husband James Francis

Katherine Johnson had continued her NASA career. For 50 years she has been a member of the Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church. Since college, she has been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority established by African-American women and for them. Johnson and her husband lived in Hampton, Virginia, and had six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. She encouraged her grandchildren and the students to pursue scientific and technological careers.

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Education and Childhood of Katherine Johnson

Being handpicked as one of three black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools is something many people would consider to be one of the most notable moments of their lives, but it’s just one of several breakthroughs that have marked the long and remarkable life of Katherine Johnson.

Her intense curiosity and numerical brilliance vaulted her to several school grades ahead. By 13, she had attended high school on West Virginia State College’s historically black campus. She enrolled at the college itself at the age of 18, where she made a quick job of the school’s math curriculum, and found a mentor in math teacher W. W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to be awarded a PhD in Math. In 1937, she graduated with highest honors and took a teaching job at a Virginia black public school.  

As West Virginia agreed to slowly integrate its graduate schools in 1939, the president of West Virginia State, Dr. John W. Davis, chose her and two men as the first black students to receive seats at West Virginia University, the State’s flagship institution. She left her teaching job and enrolled in the mathematics degree program.

Career in NASA

In 1953 she started working at the West Area Computing Unit of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), a group of African American women who conducted complex mathematical calculations manually for the engineers of the programme. The women, known as the West Computers, analyzed test data and provided essential mathematical computations for the success of the early US space program. During this time NACA was segregated, and separate bathrooms and dining facilities had to be used by the West Computers. That changed in 1958 with the incorporation of NACA into the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which prohibited segregation.

 Katherine Johnson age 100
Katherine Johnson 101 years old

Johnson was a part of the Space Task Group at NASA. In 1960 she co-authored a paper about calculations for placing a spacecraft into orbit with one of the group’s engineers. It was the first time a woman has received credit as an author of a research report in her division. During her career, Johnson authored or co-authored 26 investigative reports.

What happened to Katherine Johnson first husband James Francis Goble?

A notable groundbreaking African-American physicist and mathematician who back in the early 1950s through the late 1960s / early’ 70s worked for NASA’s aeronautics space program. They had three daughters together: Constance, Joylette and Katherine. James Goble died of a brain tumor which was inoperative.

 Katherine Johnson first husband James Francis
James Francis


Katherine Johnson first husband James fell ill in what would turn into a protracted cancer fight. Katherine quit school and returned to teaching to help support her family. However, during a trip to visit relatives in Newport News, Virginia in 1952, in a nearby aeronautics research facility, her sister and brother-in-law told Katherine that they believed opportunities were opening up for black women in math. The Gobles relocated the next week, so that Katherine could pursue her dream.