Mary J. Johnson

August 2, 1932 - February 4, 2019

Madison, WI -- Mary J. Johnson (nee Lembrich), age 86, died on Monday, February 4, 2019. A lifelong resident of Wisconsin, Mary was born in Janesville on August 2, 1932, at five minutes before midnight, to Elmer and Lucille Lembrich. She was a graduate of Janesville High School, and attended the UW-Madison, as well as MATC. She grew up on a farm near Janesville. During Mary's senior year of high school, she worked for the local telephone company on the switchboard announcing, "number please". After graduation, she left the beloved farm and moved to Madison, where she earned her manager's license in hairstyling and subsequently worked for a shop on State Street in Madison. Mary was a member of the Ground Observer Corps as a volunteer, watching the sky for unidentified planes from the roof of the Belmont Hotel in Madison, early 1950's. At the same time, unknown to Mary because they had not yet met, Nolan was in Alaska helping establish the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW) with the U.S. Air Force, which would replace the GOC. By the late 1950's the need for the GOC was diminishing, and it was inactivated in 1958. She married Nolan A. Johnson on November 12, 1955, at the Little Brown Church in the Vale, in Nashua, IA, in a double wedding ceremony with her friend from work. They were married for 63 years, and together they were the parents of three children: Kenneth (Cathy) Johnson, Sonja (Jeff) Mucks, and Eric (Kara) Ryan-Johnson. Mary loved being married, and cherished her family. Residing in the Madison area, Mary became a stay-at-home mom until her youngest child was in school. She then worked part-time for Manchester's department store, pricing inventory. After attending MATC, Mary began work at the UW-Madison, where she assisted the editor of an academic journal (Land Economics). Mary loved her work, and stayed for 26 years, retiring in 2005. After her mother died, Mary edited and published a book of her mother's poems "With Silver Trumpets," published in 2001. Mary and Nolan made several trips to Europe, visiting more than 20 countries, including Norway and the Arctic Circle. She was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and a past member of the choir, hand-bell ringers, recorder group and church council.

Mary will be missed by her husband; children; sister, Margaret "Anne"; brothers, Alfred and Paul; grandchildren, Delaney and Carly, Allie and Max, and Seamus; step-children, Steven (Jill) Johnson and Suzanne Stowall; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Ellen; brother, Elmer; in-laws, Nancy Lembrich, Art Boyce, Henry Tegt, Bea Lembrich and Charles Zirbel; and niece, Diane Ansier. Funeral services will be held at TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH, 1904 Winnebago St., Madison, at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 8, 2019, with a luncheon immediately following. Interment will follow at Milton Lawns Memorial Park, Janesville. Visitation will be held at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of the service on Friday. Memorials may be gifted in Mary's name to the Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation. Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East Funeral & Cremation Care

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