George W. Johnson, 89, a retired employe of the old U.S. Office of Education who was cited for his work as a leader in Catholic lay activities, died of a lung ailment Wednesday at Howard University Hospital.

A native of St. Mary's County, Md., and a Washington resident since 1917, Mr. Johnson served in the Army in France during World War I.

He worked as a clerk for the U.S. Commissioners of Education in the U.S. Office of Education for 40 years before retiring in 1957. During his federal career, he received a number of government awards, including a Certificate for Superior Service and a cash award for sustained work performance.

Mr. Johnson received a number of honors through the years for his volunteer work in civic and Catholic charitable activities. He was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic men's charitable group, and was an organizer and former president of the group's summer camp for children from needy families. In 1966, the society honored him for his nearly 50 years of service "to the poor of all creeds."

He was a leader in Catholic Charities, the Knights of St. John, the Holy Name Guild of Sts. Paul and Augustine Catholic Church and other groups. In 1963, he was named an Outstanding Catholic Layman of the Archdiocese of Washington by the Archdiocesan Union of Holy Name Societies.

Mr. Johnson received the Knight of Sylvester Award from Pope John XXIII in 1959.

His civic activities included a role in the organization of the Midway Civic Association, of which he was president for seven years. He received a Superior Service award from the association in 1962 and an award from the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations Inc. in 1972.

Mr. Johnson also was an organizer of the 1500 T Street Block.

His wife of 57 years, Beatrice, died in 1978.

Survivors include a daughter, Sister M. Celestina, OSP, of Our Lady of Mount Providence in Arbutus, Md. and two sons, George Jr. and Roger, both of Washington.