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Nell Johnson

Obituary for Nell Johnson

June 21, 2019
Round Rock, Texas

Obituary

Nell Frances Johnson was born in Waco, Texas on August 9th just after the start of the Great Depression. As the fifth child of Sam and Willie, the cards were stacked against her. Her blood type was RH incompatible with her mother's, yet in spite of this, she was born without complications—a fighter from the very beginning. And though she entered the world at a bleak time for most Americans, the stories of her youth were never sad or self-pitying. She spoke fondly of the modest life she lived on her Granny's farm with her mother, father, and four siblings – Sammie, Bill, Patsy, and Dorothy. It was these experiences that would shape the open-hearted, humble, and amazing woman she would become.

She attended school in Waco, Texas and from the very start, it was obvious that she was exceptionally bright. At age three, she did knitting demonstrations at the Goldstein-Migel department store, where her mother worked as a knitting instructor. And as a first grader, her reading skills were so advanced that her teacher took her around to read aloud to students in other classrooms. As a result of her high intelligence and academic achievement, she was allowed to skip two grades and graduated from high school at the age of 15. Her father, an Army colonel, served overseas in World War 2 during her entire 4 years of high school. And while Nell greatly missed him during his absence, this hardship also helped make her the strong woman she was.

Nell was a gifted artist. As a teenager, she explored her world with a Brownie camera, taking photos and even developing, retouching, and adding special effects to them in her own darkroom. And her talent was also evident in her landscape paintings and her sketches and drawings, particularly of dogs. Anyone who knew Nell in her youth knew of her love for animals, especially her cocker spaniels, Cyndi and Fella. In fact, she so loved Cyndi, she gave her youngest daughter the same name, different spelling. This love also led Nell to a lifetime of animal rescue, as she regularly took in and rehabilitated stray dogs and cats and maintained a feral cat colony for many years.

After high school, Nell attended Durham Business College to learn stenography and secretarial skills. It was this training that landed her a civil service job at the Medical Field Services School at Fort Sam Houston, the same post where her father was stationed and where she would meet, fall in love with, and marry Sgt. Eddie Johnson, who Nell fondly called "Johnny."

Nell and Johnny shared a lifetime of love and celebrated 51 years of marriage, during which they raised five children. Nell was preceded in death by her husband, Johnny, and her son, Eddie. She is survived by her four daughters: Amy, Patti, Tami, and Cindy; seven grandchildren: Melissa, Michael, Rebecca, Jamie, Erin, Laura, and, Jenny; four great grandchildren: Lacy, Kailyn, Marissa, Hayden, and Trey; and one great-great grandchild, Grayson. Nell was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who always put the needs of her family above her own. It wasn't until after raising her children and helping to raise grandchildren that she decided to enroll in college. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at age 56. She thirsted for knowledge her entire life and never, ever stopped learning, reading, and questioning. She put her degree to use every day in offering wise counsel, emotional support, and helping family members through grief and life's many struggles. She was a port in a storm to everyone who loved her and her strength and compassion were beyond measure.

Nell gave so much and asked for so little. She demonstrated her selflessness and generosity to the people and animals she loved until her final breath. She was appropriately surrounded by family and her dogs as she left this world. Ellie, her beloved 13-year-old chihuahua, was special among Nell's many rescue animals and Nell often referred to Ellie as "her rock". In keeping with this, Ellie joyfully greeted her as she returned home from the hospital to begin hospice care and laid by her side during her final hours. Less than twenty-fours after Nell passed, Ellie became ill and followed Nell into eternity.

Graveside service and interment at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery at 9 a.m., July 2, 2019.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the following organizations:

ASPCA
Austin Pets Alive
San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition

Recommended Local Florist

Suggested Memorial Donations

Arrangements By

Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212
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