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.
Van Andel Institute
333 Bostwick Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Life Story / Obituary
Mary Magdeline Johnson was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She lived her life caring for others and had a strong sense of commitment to her family. She was indeed the backbone of her family in many aspects, from her work at home, outside the home, and in her faith community. Mary’s strong work ethic, her ability to turn anything in the kitchen into the most delicious delicacy, and her sense of love and support for all who knew and loved her will be deeply missed.
The Roaring Twenties was a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge. Jazz music was booming, as well as the automotive industry, and the nation was seeing large scale industrial growth which brought about significant changes during this era. With the media focused on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie figures on July 22, 1924 Stanley and Anna (Stolko) Jablonski welcomed their own star, a newborn baby girl, Mary born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born to a hard working-set of parents; her father a furniture factory worker and her mother, a homemaker, Mary arrived during a time in history that was filled with feelings of freedom and independence.
Mary attended local schools up until the tenth grade at Union High before she left school to help care for her family. During WWII, she was a Rosie; working at Hayes helping make airplane parts. There is a certain amount of tenacity among those who lived through these trying times and Mary was never one to sulk. Instead, she seized the opportunity and was proud to help out her country in these important times in our nation’s history. While working, she met the love of her life and her partner for more than fifty years, Vernon Johnson. While dating, Vernon was stationed in South Dakota and despite a terrible abscessed tooth, Mary took a train to visit him. The smitten couple were later joined in marriage on January 19, 1946 and were eager to start a family of their own. Settling down in Grand Rapids, they made their family home on Walker Avenue NW and raised two wonderful children together; Kathy and David. Mary took her motherhood role seriously, always keeping a very kept home and running a tight ship both economically and as a disciplinarian earning her the nickname, “Little General.” She guided her children with the great life lessons of showing kindness and generosity toward others as well as instilling in them the value of setting their goals high in order to accomplish anything they wanted from life. She modeled for them a lifetime of hard work and grit.
Active her whole life, it is no surprise that Mary had so many varied interests in addition to running the household. She loved to clean and to garden, often spending several hours on her hands and knees even well into her eighties! She was a longtime member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, never missing worship and also willing to volunteer and support various church ministries over the years. Her lifetime of pitching in and helping out was a valuable and cherished resource of her church family. Mary was also an excellent cook and was famous for her chocolate chip cookies and delicious gravy. She enjoyed making everything from scratch. To satisfy her own sweet tooth, Mary never passed down a bowl of ice cream, a favorite treat of hers!
Before Vernon passed away in 1996, the two of them enjoyed traveling together to dream destinations such as the Hawaiian Islands and the beautiful landscapes of Arizona. She was never one to play cards and games, instead she loved being with people. She enjoyed hosting family as well as holding interesting conversation with so many people over the years. There wasn’t anyone who was a stranger to Mary. In fact, she was accepting of everyone she met. In her later years, when her memory wasn’t quite the same, she moved from the family home on Acacia Drive to a nursing home that specialized in memory care. Sadly, she passed away and leaves behind a rich collection of wonderful memories. Mary’s sense of compassion for her family, her sincere friendship, and her loving ways will be cherished for years to come.
Mary Magdaline Johnson aged 92, of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord on December 3, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Vernon. Mary is survived by her children, Kathy Emery and David Johnson; grandchildren, Jason (Melissa) Emery and Jonathan (Kim) Emery; great-grandchildren, Bennett, Erika, and Isaac; and many nieces and nephews. The Funeral Service will be held at 1 PM on Monday, December 5, 2016 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Friends are invited to visit with her family 11 AM until the time of the service. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. Contributions in her memory may be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church or Van Andel Institute. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook.