Carol Jean Johnson, 90

Carol Jean Johnson, 90, died peacefully at home surrounded by the love of her family on June 29, 2020 from complications of cancer.  

Born August 16, 1929 on the dusty plains of Fort Morgan, CO to Clarence DeBoer and Helen Marie Orr DeBoer, Carol graduated from Fort Morgan High School and then Colorado School of Education, (where she met her beloved husband, Carroll K. Johnson, at her Bryson House Dorm in 1948).  Her family grew up with stories from their courtship of a first date at a taffy pull and a memorable incident with the soft shoulder of a road. The couple was married in 1951 in Quantico, VA and would live all over the country–sharing untold numbers of quiet (and joyfully noisy) meals together in their 69 years of marriage.  Together Carol and Carroll raised five children: Cynthia Joy Cotter (Mark), Valerie Joan Cheatham (Dean), Gregory Curtis (Rainey Fox), Gary Thomas, and Amy Diane (Rick Elander).  With their children the Johnsons settled in the green hills of East Tennessee.  When her youngest child was in junior high, Carol attended the University of Tennessee and became the librarian at Glenwood School in Oak Ridge.  For 19 years she instilled her lifetime love of books in the children she served with her trademark creativity and gentle fierce kindness.  

Mrs. Johnson, as her students knew her,  will be remembered by her ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren for her humor, her knitting, her love for travel and the water, her humility, generosity, and intelligence.  She was always ready with a knitted hat or sewing lesson, a popsicle, a book recommendation, a hug.  A Girl Scout herself and then a leader of Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts for her children, Carol was strong and talented and determined to leave the world a better place than she found it.  

A longtime member of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Carol’s ashes will be interred there this week.  She taught Sunday School, but was not just a Sunday Morning Unitarian: she lived a deep commitment to the democratic process and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.  She was an active member of the League of Women Voters and enjoyed Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning (ORICL) classes, as well as her water exercise, knitting group, and book clubs. Carol appreciated the grand and majestic–from the Rocky Mountains of her home state to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the castles of Europe–and the small bright joys of day to day living–from the swans and gnomes and blue glass she collected to the flash of a hummingbird’s wing at her feeder and the bold froth of her favorite iris flowers.  Most especially, though, she loved the exhilaration of learning about and experiencing the world, the quiet moments of connection she found over food and books and crafts, and the satisfying chaos of a room filled with babies and pets and laughter.  

Preceded in death by her parents and sisters, Velma Jean Sheffey (Lewis) and Ethel June Conry (Louie), Carol Joan Johnson will be greatly missed by her friends and family. In lieu of flowers please send donations to the League of Women Voters ( or the Nature Conservancy (  Holley Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton is in charge of all arrangements.

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