Frances Engman-Johnson

June 20, 1917 - October 8, 2015
Grand Rapids, MI



Wednesday, October 14, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions

Thursday, October 15, 2015
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
First Evangelical Covenant Church


Thursday, October 15, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
First Evangelical Covenant Church
1933 Tremont NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

First Evangelical Covenant Church
1933 Tremont NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


With a life that spanned nearly a century, Frances (Engman) Johnson was a blessing to everyone she met. She was never one to worry about the things of this world, rather, her focus was on serving the Lord she loved by giving to those around her. A loving wife and devoted mother, Frances delighted in her family, and it was when surrounded by the love of her family that she felt truly blessed. Genuine, gracious, and welcoming, she had a way of making everyone feel loved. Although she experienced times of trial, Frances faced whatever came her way with a quiet strength and a graceful courage that were to be admired. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.

Life during the early 1900s was drastically different from the life we know and love in America today. Unsafe working conditions, a lack of child labor laws, and growing monopolies were all part of what made the middle class increasingly more discouraged and frustrated. Technology was on the brink of exploding, and with the victory of WWI in 1918, America was poised for greatness. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1917 when Henning and Anna Marie Johnson were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the beauty of summer unfolded on the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Frances Elizabeth drew her first breath. She was raised in the family home near Sinclair and Hastings on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids alongside her younger twin siblings, Evert and Evelyn. The Johnson family was very close with their extended family members, and many of Frances’ relatives lived within a few blocks. This meant that they were often visiting with one another. Sadly, her younger sister died at the young age of two.

In many ways, Frances was a young girl of her generation. She had a very strict upbringing as her father was very prim and proper, and she was always very proud of her Swedish heritage. Frances attended local schools and went to Central High School where she was classmates with Betty Bloomer who later became Mrs. Betty Ford. After graduating from high school, she went to Lucids School of Business where she took secretarial courses. Frances later put those skills to good use as a secretary at Weineger Furniture and remained there for several years. During the summer she enjoyed hanging out with her friends and also renting a cottage in Grand Haven for a week with many of these same friends. In addition, Frances liked traveling with a friend, playing tennis, roller skating, and ice skating.

Not to be forgotten during Frances’ years as a young woman was her introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was Carl Engman, and interestingly, they met while skating. They began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Frances and Carl were married in 1951. He built a home on the family farm next to his parents on Bristol, and they soon started their family with the first of two children Barbara, and Dale, later completed their family of four. The house in the apple orchard was where she live the rest of her life and apples became an integral part of her life, from the farming to cooking.

Frances focused her time and attention as a wife, mother, and homemaker, and she made it seem effortless, too. Caring for her family was always her primary focus, and she was very organized and routine with how she did it. Meal times were at regular times, everything always had a place, and things were well organized. Frances raised her children with a level of expectation, and for that reason, discipline was rarely needed because her children’s ultimate goal was to avoid disappointing her. She was meticulous about things, too, such as the way she wrote the dates of purchase on canned goods from the store. Much of the food that Frances served her family was made from things she canned from her garden, and with a husband who was a farmer she always made sure that he had everything he needed each day.

Throughout her life, family meant the world to Frances. Although she was quiet, marrying into a large family eventually allowed her to come out of her shell and she loved his family dearly. They often gathered for Sunday meals as well as on holidays. After the death her her father in 1956, Frances enjoyed having her mother come to live with them. Her mother blended right in, too, as she was helpful around the house and helped with the chores as well. Later in life, Frances often wrote to her son while he was living away, and then later on she looked forward to phone calls from both of her children nearly every day. In her quiet way, she loved and was proud of her grandsons, Paul and Ryan. It was hard for her when her mother died in 1986 followed by the death of her husband in 1987, but she relied on her faith and made her way through. Frances was a lifelong member of First Evangelical Covenant Church where she was active in various senior groups and also with the Walker Seniors within her community.

In the early nineties, a former classmate named Stanley Johnson contacted Frances. He was smitten with her, and he proved to be persistent as well. Frances enjoyed spending time with him, and they married in 1994. Together they enjoyed trips to Arizona, Florida, Sweden, and Alaska. After four years of marriage, Frances was deeply saddened with his death. With help from both of her children, she was able to remain at her home on the farm. Frances was always very welcoming, accepting visitors whether it was for a meal during the day or friends who came over to hunt on her land. She kept busy reading magazines, but she was always careful to tear off the address label or to color it in with black ink before discarding it. Going out to eat with friends was another favorite, and it was only over the past few months that Frances moved into homes with additional care. When she was 97, Frances finally gave up her driver’s license, which only further shows her resilience and strength.

All who knew Frances Engman-Johnson would agree that she was one of the sweetest people. Although quiet, she could be stubborn at times when it came to things she was passionate about. Always quiet and respectful, Frances found peace, strength, and joy in her faith and the love of her family. She will never be forgotten.

Frances Elizabeth (Engman) Johnson, age 98 went home to be with her Lord on October 8, 2015. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Carl Engman, and by her second husband, Stanley Johnson; by her brother and sister, Evert and Evelyn Johnson. Frances is survived by her children Dale & Joyce Engman, Barbara Gillan; grandsons, Paul and Ryan Engman; sister-in-law Chris Johnson; and many nieces and nephews. The service to celebrate her life will be held on Thursday, October 15 at 11 AM at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 1933 Tremont NW. Friends are invited to visit with her family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW on Wednesday from 5-8 PM and on Thursday at the church from 10 AM until the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the church are appreciated. To read more about her life, to share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com