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Virginia Johnson

Educator, world traveler, grandmother

Virginia Ruth (Smith) Johnson died peacefully September 30 at age 91 in Murrieta, California.

She was born May 22, 1927 in Detroit to parents Dorothy (Hollis) Smith and Edward Smith, on the same day that Charles Lindbergh landed in France.

She lived in Detroit until setting off to attend Albion College in Albion, Michigan, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music. In Albion she met Russell H. Johnson, a returning World War II veteran. They were married August 18, 1949. Soon thereafter the young couple moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where they had two sons.

In August 1960 the family moved west, to California. They lived in Sierra Madre, Santa Ana and Tustin before moving to Claremont in the summer of 1967.

While living in Santa Ana, she worked as a junior high English teacher. She would go on to also teach Spanish and physical education. In Claremont, her husband became the manager of Security Pacific Bank. Ms. Johnson continued to teach, now for the Ontario-Montclair School District. She would eventually become a junior high counselor. She retired in 1987, after 20 years with the district.

The retired couple busied themselves by spending time with their grandchildren, with Reading for the Blind, Meals on Wheels, and at Claremont Methodist Church, where they worked in the office, did handyman work and sang in the choir, and by traveling the world.

Her time with her grandchildren included trips to Hawaii, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and museums, as well as many happy times at numerous gatherings.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 55 years, Russell Johnson, and her sister, Laura Jean Sill.

Ms. Johnson is survived by her sons, Dale and his wife, Jerilynne; Phillip and his wife, Suzanne; and five grandchildren, Michael, Adam, Laura, Matthew and Kathryn.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, December 29 at Claremont United Methodist Church, 211 W. Foothill Blvd. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made via check to Claremont United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont CA 91711.