Home All Jane’s World: Happy 91st Birthday To My Mom, Mary Johnson

Jane’s World: Happy 91st Birthday To My Mom, Mary Johnson

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My mom and her family in Memphis, TN, Overton Ave.; Mom, front left; her sister Jane, front right; their parents, Mary Louise and James Bohlken, upper right; with aunts and cousins.
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Mary Johnson, December 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Mary Johnson, December 2015 | Jane Boursaw Photo

(Pictured above: My mom and her family in Memphis, TN, Overton Ave.; Mom, front left; her sister Jane, front right; their parents, Mary Louise and James Bohlken, upper right; with aunts and cousins.)

My mom, Mary Johnson, turns 91 today. To say she’s seen a lot is a major understatement. But through it all, she’s always lived a life of faith and love, and is a great role model to me and anyone who knows her.

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She met my dad, Walter Johnson, when they both attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in the 1940s. She studied nursing and he studied mechanical engineering.

She worked the night shift on the school’s switchboard, and he was a night watchman. They met when he used to “check in on her” during his stroll around campus. She always had some of her mom’s fried chicken on hand, just in case he might be hungry.

They married on August 21, 1946, and suddenly, she went from being a Southern city girl to a northern Michigan farm wife. I’m sure it was a major culture shock, but I bet she took it in stride. Here she is at the Sand Dunes (Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), circa late 1940s.

Mary Johnson, pinup girl, at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the 1940s
Mary Johnson, Pinup Girl, at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the 1940s

She’s been a big part of the Old Mission community all those years, serving on the Peninsula Community Library Board, Old Mission Women’s Club, Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society and playing the organ at Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church for 50+ years, just to name a few of her many pursuits.

She and my dad built up one of the biggest farms on the Peninsula, which my brothers, Dean Johnson and Ward Johnson, and my niece and her husband, Heather and Cory Reamer, now run.

Mary and Walter Johnson in the apple orchard, Sept. 1946 (shortly after they were married in Arlington, VA in Aug. 1946)
Mary and Walter Johnson, apple orchard, Sept. 1946 (shortly after they were married in Arlington, VA in Aug. 1946)

Here we all are at her birthday party last night at her house in Old Mission. Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you!

The Johnson Clan at Mary Johnson's 91st Birthday Party | Jane Boursaw Photo
The Johnson Clan at Mary Johnson’s 91st Birthday Party | Jane Boursaw Photo

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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