Carolyn Johnson

Carolyn Jeanne Johnson

1925 - 2021

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Obituary of Carolyn Jeanne Johnson

Carolyn Jeanne Johnson January 22, 1925 - November 5, 2021 Carolyn Jeanne Johnson died peacefully with a cat on her lap at her daughter’s home in West Potsdam, NY on November 5, 2021. She was 96 years old. Jeanne was the second of two children of Russell John and Caroline Hettelsaeter Bodman. She was born January 22, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri. She went through elementary and high school in Kansas City, with brief periods spent in Parkville, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota (temporary relocations prompted by the Great Depression), and graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City, Missouri. She attended Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, for one year and while there she first met her future husband, Max Howard Johnson. Max, three years older, graduated from Baker and joined the Navy while Jeanne transferred to University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, to pursue a degree in architectural engineering. They reunited in 1946 when Max returned to the Midwest to complete a degree in electrical engineering at KU and got in touch with Jeanne about borrowing one of her engineering math textbooks. In spite of the ensuing distraction, they both completed their degrees and were married less than two years later. Jeanne was very proud of her engineering heritage; her grandfather, father, and several uncles were all engineers, and she took it for granted that she could follow the same path. Over the course of her working life she was employed in a number of drafting rooms, but never at a higher level than as a draftsman. Over the years she encountered more than one engineer who made it clear that he did not believe that women belonged in drafting rooms in any capacity, but she generally felt welcome and valued by the companies that did hire her, including General Electric in New York, and Cooper, Robinson, and Carlson Architects and Yellow Freight Trucking in Kansas City. After they married, Max took a job with General Electric in Schenectady, NY, and they moved east. They lived in New York state from 1948 to 1954, in Schenectady, Balston Spa, and Scotia. Their first two daughters, Karen and Lynn, were born there and Jeanne gave up drafting for homemaking and child-wrangling. In 1954 Max had an opportunity to take a position with GE back in Kansas City, and they moved back to their hometown, settling in Overland Park, Kansas, in 1956. Their third daughter, Marcia, was born there, and Max’s mother Orpha moved in as well. The household also expanded to include (at one time or another) turtles, snakes, birds, guinea pigs, mice, one horned toad, ducks, and an iguana in addition to a long line of dogs and cats. Jeanne welcomed them all, and naturally assumed most of the responsibility for their care. Jeanne thoroughly enjoyed the company of her children and their friends, and the Johnson house was a neighborhood favorite because the kids were allowed far more freedom than they found in other households. Jeanne kept an eye on the mayhem, but rarely tried to exert much control, beyond exclaiming “oh, dear” whenever something particularly problematic happened. Several of Jeanne’s daughters’ friends over the years expressed the wish that she would adopt them. By 1976 Max was working for another company, and he and Jeanne, along with Orpha, moved to Indian Hills, Colorado, outside of Denver when his employer relocated there. Jeanne loved living in the mountains, and subsequently regarded Colorado as her home. She comfortably navigated snowy mountain roads, learned to cook at low oxygen, and was always happy to show visitors her adopted home. After Max’s death in 1983, she took loving care of her mother-in-law until her death in 1988. Jeanne was very proud of the fact that she had raised all three of her daughters to go into science or engineering (a physics professor, a botanist, and an aerospace engineer turned IT wizard). She thoroughly enjoyed celebrating their successes and sympathizing with their frustrations and visited all three with regularity. When her granddaughters joined the family in Washington State, she had even more reason to travel. It was fortunate that she was an enthusiastic air traveler (up until recent years) because at one time in the 1990s she had a daughter in Northern New York, one in Washington State, and one in Australia. Jeanne was a quiet woman who enjoyed her solitude, but she was always well informed about the world around her. She was a life-long reader, and in her later years (despite failing eyesight) most of her time was devoted to keeping up with the news; her daily newspaper was extremely important to her. She was particularly concerned about environmental and conservation issues, as well as national political developments. Although she was an old-fashioned moderate conservative most of her adult life, in the last twenty years she shifted her views diametrically and became surprisingly progressive. In 1998 Jeanne moved to Conifer, Colorado, to be nearer her daughter Marcia, and in 2011 she moved in with Marcia. She came to Northern New York in the fall of 2019 for a visit and found herself trapped here by the Covid virus. While missing Colorado very much, she was philosophical about her situation, and accepted her new home willingly. In recent years Jeanne liked to tell the story of how when she was born the maternity nurse told her mother that she shouldn’t bother to name the baby because she was so puny, she probably wouldn’t survive. 96 years later Jeanne decided she had proven that nurse wrong many times over, and she did not need to live to 100. She had the good fortune to experience the death she wished for. In addition to her husband and mother-in-law, Jeanne was predeceased by her parents and her older sister Alice Spray of Lawrence, Kansas. She is survived, and will be very much missed by her daughters and their partners: Karen E. Johnson and Brian Coots of West Potsdam, NY; Lynn and Fred Mills of Prosser, WA; and Marcia and Randy Bohannon of Conifer, CO. She also leaves two beloved granddaughters: Adrienne (and Donny) Harvey of Tieton, WA; and Elise Mills of Prosser, WA. In addition, she also leaves a host of family pets to mourn her including in particular Lewis, Madeline, and Kepler of West Potsdam, NY. Jeanne’s family would like to thank some of the folks who helped make Jeanne’s last two years comfortable: Brooke Dashno, Katy Angus, and the staff of Healey Medical. We are grateful for the care and attention they gave her. If you wish to remember Jeanne, on her behalf we ask that in lieu of flowers you consider a donation to your local animal rescue organization. Lawrence Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Canton is handling arrangements. Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting www.lawrencefuneralhome.org
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