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In Memoriam


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Last Name  Maiden Name   First Name

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Johnson, AvaDale (Plummer)1948

D.O.D 03/18/2014 - AvaDale Plummer Johnson ‘48

Early this morning in St. Paul, MN, AvaDale died. St. Patrick’s Day was appropriate. AvaDale was one of the brightest and best Phillipians I have known. In 1948-49, my freshman year, AlvaDale was a first year seminarian. In the 1949 Phillipian, she is pictured as Graduate Friendliest, and president of King’s Messengers. Had I a copy of the 1948 Phillipian, I’m sure she would have been listed for many undergraduate activities and honors. In 1948-50 she was dating Charles Johnson ‘49 who would become her husband. Charles was also a campus leader, pictured that year as “King Phillip I”, in “Who’s Who”, GC and other campus leadership roles and honors.

AvaDale was from Oklahoma City and Charles was from Memphis. They would prepare for the mission field by studies in Nashville, Charles at Vanderbilt Divinity School and AvaDale at Peabody School for Teachers. Next they would be at Yale Divinity School and eventually the Belgium Congo mission field in years just prior to independence with The Congo becoming Zaire. Ben, one of the Johnson sons, a professional screen writer, has written the story of the family’s life and work in Africa. It is part fiction but mostly true. The title is If the Rains Don’t Cleanse.

Following their work on the mission field, Charles and AvaDale worked with Indian tribes on the border of Arizona & Mexico. Charles earned a Ph.D. from the U. of Arizona. They then moved to St. Paul where for many years Charles would teach at Macalester College – retiring as Professor Emeritus. AvaDale would be a longtime teacher in public schools. All the while they would be rearing a fine family of James, Susan, Winifred, Margaret, Lee and Ben. It is a remarkable, high achieving family.

Following the Vietnam War many Hmong people from southeast Asia would come to MN as refugees. The Johnson’s work with them is worth another book. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are not strong in St. Paul, thus the Johnson’s would become Quakers, worshipping in a Friends Meeting near their campus. Several years ago, Patty and I were in a Roads Scholar (Elderhostel) event which took us to St. Paul. We took an evening off to have dinner with AvaDale in her home. Charles had died earlier. We cherish that time with AvaDale!

A few days ago, having learned that AvaDale’s death was soon to come, I wrote to her daughter Susan:

When Patty and I spent an evening with her several years back, we both have memories we cherish. Hearing her tell of her children and grandchildren confirms our belief that our lives continue to bless generation after generation long after we depart this earth.

She will be greatly missed not only by you her family but all who ever knew her. In my case, I cannot recall ever sending out an issue of PU News/Views but she found something praiseworthy in accounts of those who also shared the memories of the small church-related university which helped shape our values and commitments.

Thank you, AvaDale, for simply being who you are! - BG