OK I've got it working and everything is up and running again. Let me post what I came across.
I did the json file modification and tried to import wallet again. Got the same error as previously stated.
Now... when I did this, I had already unlocked the wallet via the opening screen and then tried the import wallet function.
So I closed the wallet out and restarted after getting the error.
Once it restarted, I imported the wallet json before I unlocked the wallet via the "File" menu (which I never realized you could do) and the wallet opened with all info intact!!!
So that being said, I'm left to wonder... is this safe? To have the "File" drop down menus available to access before any password is entered?
Granted, I still had to enter my password via the password pop up box after selecting the "File" menu functions. But still?!
I terms of feeling "safer" about my wallet from being compromised, wouldn't it be better that NO functions show at all other than just the password screen?
Otherwise, Thank you guys for jumping in with the work around