Pamela Jean Johnson

November 14, 1946 - January 20, 2021
Pamela Johnson

Pamela “Pam” Jean Johnson (née Eliason), 74, Overland Park, KS, died on January 20, 2021 after a long illness. She was 74 years old.

Pam was born on November 14, 1946, in Carthage, MO to Sylvester and Ruth Eliason. She was a proud 1964 graduate of Carthage Senior High School, attended Joplin Junior College (now Missouri Southern State University), and received her BA in Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO in 1969.

It was Pam’s part-time job at the Joplin Globe during college that solidified her interest in journalism. After graduating college in 1969, she worked at the Binghamton Press, Kansas City Times, and was the Assistant Managing Editor of the Kansas City Star. Pam moved to Phoenix in 1989 to become the Managing Editor at the Phoenix Gazette. She was later promoted to the sister paper and became Executive Editor and Senior Vice President for the Arizona Republic. After leaving the Republic in 2001, Pam served on the Leadership Faculty at Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL for three years. She was elated to come home and serve as the founding executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, serving from 2004 to her retirement in 2011.

Pam received a Pulitzer Prize in 1982, with a team of reporters from the Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times for their coverage of the Hyatt Hotel skywalk’s collapse. She went on to receive the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 2000, and she was inducted into the Chart Hall of Fame at Missouri Southern State University in 2017. In addition to these accomplishments, Pam served as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors and was one of the founding members of Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), a group formed to help women in newspapers through networking.

Pam will be remembered as a pioneer for female journalists. Her children remember her as a driven, brilliant woman, avid Missouri Tigers fan, and a patient mother who encouraged them to pursue their goals. Pam’s deep love of her children and grandchildren was only rivaled by her deep love for her Carthage classmate and second husband, Jim Dalton, whom she was married to for 16 years before he preceded her in death in 2017.

Pamela is survived by her children, Matthew (Jennifer) Johnson, Overland Park, KS and Brad Johnson of Olathe, KS; Sheila Dalton Crews (Adam) of Winter Garden, FL; a sister, Carolyn Pierce, Joplin, MO; four grandchildren Parker and Emma Johnson; Austin and Jordyn Crews; her beloved dog, Norm, and dear nieces, nephews, and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jim Dalton, her parents, Sylvester and Ruth Eliason of Carthage, MO, and a brother, Don Eliason, Myrtle Beach, SC. Pam was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Carthage, MO. Pam will be missed greatly and remembered fondly by all of those whose lives she touched.

Pam’s family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Rose Estates Assisted Living and Harbor Hospice for their loving care of her.

A private family-only celebration of her life will be held Saturday, January 23 at 10:30 am at Faith Lutheran Church, Carthage, MO. The family invites everyone to join the service virtually through this link: Memorial gifts may be made to the Pam Johnson Journalism Scholarship, which will honor her legacy of leadership. Online donations can be made at ( Or checks made payable to the Missouri School of Journalism, noting that the gift is for the Pam Johnson Journalism Scholarship, may be sent to the Missouri School of Journalism, Office of Advancement, 103 Neff Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. Online condolences may be expressed through