Joan Diana Johnson, 64

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 19:00

Joan Diana Johnson died peacefully from sarcoma (cancer) at her Eagle River home Nov. 15, 2013, surrounded by loving family and friends. She was 64.

Johnson was born Oct. 28, 1949, in Port Angeles, Wash., to Virgil and Marie Read. She graduated from Port Angeles High in 1967 and received a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Washington University in 1971. She later earned a master’s degree in writing from Northeastern University in Massachusetts.

Johnson began her teaching career in Yakima, Wash., before moving to Anchorage in 1973. She taught for 29 years in the Anchorage School District at Chinook, Williwaw, Eagle River, Ravenwood and Alpenglow elementary schools. She also taught at Mirror Lake Middle School.

“Her students excelled on projects based on their passions,” Johnson’s family wrote.

Johnson also wrote and directed many school plays. She retired in 2002.

Johnson and her husband of 36 years, Paul, began their relationship while constructing sets together for the Chinook Elementary bicentennial celebration. Their first summer venture was hiking the 36-mile Resurrection Trail, where love kept Johnson going on heavily blistered feet from new boots.

Marathon fishing days followed where she got in some reading and napping. Joan and Paul were married June 6, 1977, and built their Eagle River Valley home in 1979.

Johnson developed an interest in belly dancing, performing for several years.

In 1987, Joan and Paul adopted their beloved daughter, Heather.

“She added a treasured dimension to their lives,” her family wrote. “Heather knew that mom would always be there for her.”

“Joan loved to read and write, and her deviled eggs and bean bake were a must at family functions,” her family wrote. “Her love of warmth led often to Hawaii and her adventurous spirit meant Europe by train for the three amigos.

“Joan was an eclectic, non-traditional thinker and a lifelong learner,” her family wrote. “After retirement, she pursued studies in several spiritual groups, including the Butterfly Clan Sisters, Anam Cara, Paedia and White Sage Landing. Drumming became vital in her life.

“Through spiritual studies and her own innate ability, Joan became an accomplished psychic reader, providing valuable insight to numerous people,” her family wrote. “Joan touched many lives and was an inspiration with her wisdom, calmness, compassion and teaching.”

Johnson had an affinity for animals, especially birds.

Johnson is survived by her husband, Paul; daughter, Heather; sisters, Judy (Argil) Jeffery and Sharon (Melvin) Cork; brothers-in-law, Dennis (Linda) Johnson, Darrell (Laurine) Johnson, Tom Johnson; sister-in-law, Gloria Snodgrass; nieces and nephews, Aaron (Christina) Jeffery, Greg Jeffery, Susie (Keith) Jeffery, Gwen (David) Rudzinski, Doug York, Shanda (Reid) McDonald, Briana (Sam) Theis, Brandon (Jenn) Snodgrass, Tyler Snodgrass and Travis Snodgrass; and numerous great-nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life and potluck will be held Saturday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. at Community Covenant Church located at 16123 Artillery Road in Eagle River.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Joan Johnson to the Eagle River Nature Center at 32750 Eagle River Road, Eagle River, Alaska, 99577.

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