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Kerrville, Texas 78028
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Barbara Jewell Johnson Click for Condolences      Printable Version
1914 - 2014

Barbara Jewell JohnsonBarbara Jewell Davis Johnson said so long to her earthly body just shy of her 100th birthday on June 19, 2014, in Kerrville, Texas, and the birth of her first great grandchild, expected on July 15. She was born July 26, 1914, in Somerville, Mass., and grew up in Lexington, Mass. She was a descendant through her father, George Melvin Davis, of John Alden and Pricilla Mullins, of the Mayflower journey.

June 19 is "Juneteenth," a national holiday marking the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas learned about the Emancipation Proclamation. That was appropriate for Barbara, who worked all her life for human and civil rights. She helped start a project in Washington, D.C., under which Vietnamese children burned by napalm during the Vietnam War were flown to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery. Later, she routinely helped distribute social security checks for elderly residents of Athens, Georgia, who feared their checks might be stolen from their mail boxes.

Barbara Davis wed Eugene Ingwall Johnson of St. Paul, Minn., at her Lexington, home June 17, 1943, while Gene was home on leave from World War II China, where he served as an Intelligence Major in the U.S. Army. They had two children, Evans Carlson Johnson (66) of Kerrville, who served as her caretaker during her final 14 years, and Kristina Johnson, who died at age 2 ½, of birth defects, in Southern California.

Barbie finished high school in Lexington, and, even though that was during the Great Depression and the Davis family had very little money for three daughters, one of her mother's sisters paid for her first year in college at William & Mary in Virginia. She often shared vivid memories of that year as a "Masstusetts" Yankee in the cradle of the Confederacy. Returning to Massachusetts, she enrolled in Massachusetts State College in Amherst and graduated in 1936 with a B.A. in Humanities and Fine Arts. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. That school is now U Mass.

Soon realizing she could not find work with her degree, she enrolled in a secretarial school, graduated, and soon became administrative assistance to the president of Princeton University. She also worked in New York City and for a war-time laboratory at Harvard University, where she recalled the great consternation when a prototype torpedo sunk in a local lake.

After the war, the couple moved several times in their early years and Barbie well remembered typing Gene's doctoral dissertation with six carbon-paper copies, so he could earn his Doctorate of Education from Stanford University. They lived near Mounts Shasta and Lassen in far northern California, in Hollywood, in San Bernardino near Los Angeles, before moving to University City, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. She worked long and hard to help Gene utilize public television stations to form "listening posts." Gathered people would interact  in the 1950s  with the station in a city-wide quest for new ideas and solutions for Big City problems.

Barbie became most at home in the Unitarian-University fellowship of her father and counted among her heroes: her mother, Bessie Fuller Davis, Jesus, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Carl Gustav Jung.

Private family services at a later date.

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