EDITOR'S NOTE: The family has created a Web site with video and other photos at www.blanchejohnson.com.
Blanche Dabney Johnson will be remembered as a special lady, an inspiration and a mentor.
Johnson, 91, died July 27, 2008, at her beloved home on Krueger Hill. Memorial services are today at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Brownwood.
“Blanche Johnson was a big factor in First United Methodist Church for many years,” said Brad Locker. “Not many are replacing folks like her.”
One of the church’s adult Sunday school classes is named in honor of Johnson and her late husband, J. Edward Johnson.
“In the ’60s, we were in the class - it was called the ‘young couples’ class’ then - and J. Edward was the teacher,” remembered Elaine Dippel.
“What I’ll never forget about Blanche is that she was such a terrific, special lady,” Dippel said. “She had a wonderful sense of humor, but I remember too, how faithful, how strong, she was in her beliefs. She could quote scripture beautifully, and I think she knew every verse of every hymn.”
In a tribute to Johnson in the church newsletter, Dr. Don Scroggs, pastor at FUMC, recalled Johnson singing the books of the Bible, in order, to the tune of “The Turkey in the Straw.”
“Her influence and teachings have touched generations of youth, and her faith and life have been an inspiration to so many in the church and the community,” Scroggs said.
In the last 30 years, Johnson had philanthropically supported many causes, and volunteered to serve on numerous boards and many committees. Johnson was honored in 1999 as one of the 100 “Women of the Century” by the Texas Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
“It was my way of saying thank you to her for the love, concern and support she gave me throughout the years and for her interest in my success and happiness,” Ernestine Balderrama Kubicek, who nominated Johnson for the honor, wrote in a letter of condolence to Johnson’s children.
“It was your mom and dad’s faith in my capabilities and what I could accomplish in life that helped instill in me that confidence which plays such a strong part in my life today,” Kubicek added.
Johnson’s introduction in the “Great Texas Women” booklet states, “Because of her, numerous young people have received scholarships to SMU, Howard Payne University and other institutions.”
In 2002, Johnson said some of her proudest work had been with the Latch Key board, and said that in 1995, the year she was president, the organization raised $80,000.
She was married to J. Edward Johnson on Aug. 20, 1941. As newlyweds, they lived in the Davis Mountains and J. Edward was working for the U.S. Attorney General, surveying and investigating the land that was to become Big Bend National Park.
Blanche Johnson recalled in the 2002 interview how J. Edward was considered “a most eligible bachelor” about the time she was finishing Howard Payne College.
But when he called her for a date in 1939, he identified himself only as “Ed Johnson,” and she didn’t know who he was.
“We thought J. Edward Johnson was such a sophisticated name,” Blanche Johnson said, “and come to find out, he only did it because there were so many Ed Johnsons in town, he added the initial so his shirts wouldn’t get mixed up at the laundry.”
J. Edward went on to become an attorney with powerful political connections in the late ’40s until he was stricken with cancer and died in 1978. J. Edward advised Lyndon Baines Johnson (no relation) very early in his political career, and by the time LBJ was president, the couples were well acquainted.
“Blanche Johnson was so gracious and caring, wherever she was, in whatever role” Dippel said. “It’s hard to describe in a few words and accurately say enough. She always put other people first.”