Mary Alice Johnson
Mary Alice Johnson
You may not have known Mary Alice Johnson, but she would have made your life a little better. On March 10, 2020, she rejoined her loved ones, mother, Byrle Stephenson, father, Edwin Oaks, brother, Willis Oaks and wife, Opal Oaks, husband, Charles Johnson, brother-in-law, Richard Ellingson, and grandson, Lincoln Lambert. We think she passed away on purpose to avoid having to make a decision in the upcoming presidential election, or to avoid finding how much money she was going to lose in the stock market because of the virus, or both.
Mary Alice Oaks Johnson was born March 25, 1927 to Byrle and Edwin Oaks in Des Moines Iowa. Beginning in 1936 at the age of 9 through age 16, she always considered herself lucky to be able to spend her summers at the farms of two of her cousins, Dorothy and Jess Taylor near Moorland, Iowa and Byrle and Mick Gentry near Lohrville, Iowa., There she learned many of lifes' great skills: caring for kids; ironing (not ironing in the wrinkles, but ironing them out as Dorothy would say; caring for and preparing the chickens to eat (though she always let Dorothy do the neck wringing);cooking; and learning to drive. One of her fondest memories was getting to drive the large Farmall Tractor on the yearly Thrashers Run and then getting to join the menfolk at the dining room table for the big noon meal. Not bad for a city girl from Des Moines, and she had the best suntan in her North High School class that year! After graduating in 1945, Mary Alice attended Iowa Methodist School of Nursing along with two high school friends, Audrey MacRae and Elly Ratcliff. They have witnessed incredible changes in nursing over their careers. Back then they washed and reused needles, didn't wear gloves except in surgery, and had quite a process to go through to convert penicillin from powder to liquid form before giving each dose.
On August 16, 1947 Mary Alice was married to Charles C. Johnson, Jr. at the Little Brown Church in the Vale. They had four children and were married 64 years until Chuck passed away in 2011.
Mary Alice's hands were rarely still. She was an incredible seamstress, the entire family's (and then some) go to for shortening hems, making alterations, drapes, and you name it! Cooking three meals a day for many years of her life, she will be remembered in particular for her sugar cookies, homemade chicken and noodles and French silk pie. Her hands kept busy with various crafts. Many of her family and our friends are the lucky recipients of her button dolls and bracelets, as well as her tole paintings. She kept an immaculate house, loved zinnias, flowers and tiny vases. In her nursing career, she cared for and shared her kindness with many in various doctor's offices, friend's homes and for almost 19 years at the Ramsey Home, a care center owned then by the Disciples of Christ Christian Church, now First Christian Church of which she was a life-long member. At Ramsey, Mary Alice worked with or cared for many life-long friends. After her retirement in 1999, she remained active with her great grandchildren. She was a proud member of the P.E.O Sisterhood, Chapter GY and her monthly meetings of The 45'ers high school lunches and breakfasts with her Iowa Methodist Nurse Training friends.
She is survived by her children, Charla Johnson, John Johnson (Gay), Sandy Gilmore (Robert Jenkins) and Janet Johnson; daughter from another mother, Carla Davis; sister-in-law, Chloris Ellingson; grandchildren, Jill (Mike) Lane, Jessie Johnson and Nicole(Dusty) Lear; and great-grandchildren, Dylan Lane, Lucas and Logan Wood, Madison Ward, Leelah and Ivee Jo Lear; step great-grandchildren, Daylin and Destyne Lear; and a host of extended family, friends and neighbors.
Mary Alice remains our treasure who is irreplaceable and will go with us wherever our own journeys take us. Please join us in celebrating her life. On Saturday, March 14, the family will meet with guests from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.with a memorial service at 11:30 a.m. at Dunn's Funeral Home, 2121 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa. Lunch will be served immediately after the service, followed by a graveside service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Bidwell Riverside Center.
Thank you for all your kind and loving support. The family asks that you spend time with your children and family, mix up a batch of sugar cookies, take a walk on the beach and make a toast to enduring friendships lifelong and beyond. That is what Mary Alice would wish for you.
Published on March 13, 2020


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