Lea Virginia Johnson

Teacher, traveler, loving grandmother

Lea Virginia Johnson, a longtime Claremont resident, died on June 22, 2013. She was 97.

Mrs. Johnson was born on May 27, 1916 in Emerson, Nebraska to George H. Watson and Bessie L. Waggoner Watson. She had 2 brothers and one sister, all of who preceded her in death.

Virginia, as she was known, married Frank James Johnson on June 1, 1940. While Mr. Johnson was serving in the Navy during World War II, they had 3 daughters, Regina, Patricia and Marilyn. 

Mrs. Johnson graduated from the University of La Verne with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. She was a classroom teacher for more than 30 years and spent another 18 years as a professor of teacher prep at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. While at Cal Poly, Mrs. Johnson was named Teacher of the Year and then professor emeritus upon her retirement. As a reading specialist, she was a consultant for many school districts.

Mrs. Johnson’s hobbies were sharing her words of wisdom with her family, friends and students as well as baking and traveling. Throughout the years, she traveled to Canada, Alaska, Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Egypt and Europe, where she spent 14 months visiting each country. Her daughters and many of her grandchildren were able to meet up with her in many of the countries in Europe as well as in Canada and Alaska.

Mrs. Johnson was the official baker for the family. Her family always considered themselves very fortunate to be the recipient of her delicious “grandma” cookies, cakes and pies.

Mrs. Johnson lived in Claremont for 24 years so that she would be close to her family. She was happiest having her 9 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren around her. She was looking forward to the birth of her 16th great-grandchild in July.

She was interred at Covina Hills Forest Lawn, overlooking her beloved Cal Poly.

Mrs. Johnson was preceded in death by her husband, Frank James Johnson, and by her daughter Regina, who died in 2006. She is survived by her daughter, Patti Hardy of Claremont; by her daughter and son-in-law, Marilyn and Herb Barnes of Claremont; by 9 grandchildren and their partners, Tim and Jen Coates of Upland, Andrew and Ally Coates of Placentia, Scott and Debbie Barnes of Claremont, Chris and Heidi Barnes of Yorba Linda, Jennifer and Pat McGee of Upland, Amy and Ryan Kolodge of Upland, Christa and Rick Ramage of Bedford, New York, Tracie and Steve Carnes of Rancho Cucamonga and Ron and Kristin Nash of Houston, Texas; and by 15 great-grandchildren.

Contributions may be made in Lea Virginia Johnson’s name to a favorite charity.



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