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Valda Henrie Johnson
24 August 1921 -- 25 July 2019
A faithful daughter of God received a long-anticipated heavenly reunion on 25 July 2019 when 97 year-old Valda Henrie Johnson passed away peacefully in Logan, Utah. Valda Henrie was born in a log cabin in Panguitch, Utah, to James Arthur and Agatha Manetta Prince Henrie, raised in Provo, Utah, and Eugene, Oregon, along with two brothers, James Arthur (Maxine Thompson) Henrie Jr. and Dantan (Berneice Matthews) Henrie, and three sisters, Norma Reich, Hilma (Roger) Honeyman and Cecil (Wayne) Pomeroy. She was a fervent member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Valda married her high school sweetheart, Allan McClure Johnson “Mick,” 27 May 1942 in Corpus Christi, TX, and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on 10 June 1942. She faithfully raised a family of nine children in Edgemont and Provo, Utah, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Reseda, California, then retired in Kanab, Utah with her adventure-loving husband where they hosted friends and family for extravagant feasts of food and nature in the beautiful Southern Utah landscape.
After Mick’s passing 14 January 2004, she moved to Plymouth, Utah, where she continued her life-long habit of serving personally in the pattern of her Savior Jesus Christ. Still vibrant with energy and health to be envied up to the age of 94, Valda taught 19 piano lessons a week, did laundry and dishes for large families, taught Sunday School, employed many youth in her garden, and kept the landscape of her Plymouth home abounding in flowers. She was also very active in tearing down the old house on her Plymouth property and designing the new one. With great effort she managed to design and redesigning the home several times. It might be fair to say that the home was like the landscape in Reseda, it was a work of trial and error based on what felt right.
Valda has deeply missed her husband for 15 years and her oldest son, Allan, who died in 2008. Daughter-in-law Malissa, two grandchildren--Brian Scott Johnson and Melinda Lee Johnson--and great-grandson Harold Jackson Johnson Rawnsley also preceded her in death.
Valda was so proud of her big family. She is survived by daughter-in-law Diane (Allan) Johnson and eight children, James Arthur “Jim” (Marilyn) Johnson, Jerald Henrie “Jerry” Johnson, Val Henrie (Gloria) Johnson, Elizabeth Ann (Jason) Bock, Alexander Dan (Jean) Johnson, Katherine Dale (Scott) Christensen, Patricia Inez (Vince) Cioffi, and Barbara Lee (Russell) Bennett, 35 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.
An 11:00 a.m. reception and 12:00 noon memorial service will be held Saturday, 31 August 2019 at the Fielding Stake Center, 4375 West 15600 North, Fielding, Utah. The grave will be dedicated and ashes buried next year in Kanab, Utah.
Memories of Valda Henrie Johnson
Some of the things that she may be remembered for during the Edgemont years were helping put Mick through school by selling milk, doing laundry, ironing, taking in boarders, tailoring clothes for the children, teaching kids to swim, saving money so the children could go to movies with their cousins, baking bread, canning fruit and vegetables, raising a large garden and fruit trees, and having five children and one full-term still-birth child while Mick worked, went to BYU, flew in the Air National Guard, raised pigs and chickens and children, built a home, and hunted. Together they lived a full and busy life.
When the family moved to Ohio, Valda had seven children and quickly put them to work leveling a terraced backyard, building the ever-present compost with every oak leaf she could find in a landscape of thousands of oaks, and baking bread, cinnamon rolls, and making divinity candy for the never-ending monthly ward bake sales that funded the new chapel that was built in Hamilton. The family opinion was that she funded the members’ contributions for the chapel by herself. She had regular customers that loved the baked goods because the flavors took them back to their childhood memories.
Great examples of Valda’s dedication in her church callings come from the time living in California. She took the most difficult class of young boys--boys known for driving out teachers--and molded them into well-behaved children, at least in her presence. She loved her Cub Scouts and took them on lots of hikes and activities. Another memory was watching her prepare talks for church and Relief Society. She scripted and practiced to the exact allotted time and loved to present memorable object lessons. One time she needed bread dough to stick to her hands to make a point for the lesson, she was such a skilled baker that no matter how hard she tried, she could not make it stick. She laughed and laughed as she tried to get her point across.
Valda came from a long line of active and inspired members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and she developed the gift of faith and miracles. She could pray and rub Mick’s headaches away. Even when Mick was inactive in church, he would ask her to pray away his headaches. Jerry tells a story of going to the Reseda ward social that Valda and Mick put on. She gave a personal invitation to every adult person in the ward. Most of them came and as they entered the cultural hall they were introduced with a drum roll on a bass-drum and their names were announced regally. She was known for her cooking and had prepared shish kabobs that were to be barbecued outdoors. As often happens, the weather did not cooperate. The rain was falling in a torrent. The southern California rains were known to flood to the doorstep of every home in the valley as they rushed down the streets toward the Los Angeles River and on to the ocean. Jerry said to his friend Bill Nada, “Bill, do you want to see a miracle?” They covertly followed Valda to a secluded classroom and watched her kneel and pray. She went outside with the kabobs and Jerry described the clouds rolled back above the grill in a circle about the size of a football field and stars appeared. The area around the grill was rain free. As the food cooking came to an end, Jerry says he asked Bill if he wanted to see another miracle. They watched her pray and the hole in the clouds closed and the torrent continued. As you might imagine, her children have experienced their own heavenly manifestations as a result of the many examples from both parents and their progenitors.
In Kanab and Plymouth Valda served her congregation and her neighbors and was in-turn served by them. She was an accomplished pianist but terrified to play in public. She had a characteristic of trying to understand the nuances of the things she loved. The piano was one of her loves and she gained the ability to play and teach the nuanced art of music to her students. She still taught when she could not climb the steps to her students’ homes. Sometimes she taught for free, and for some of the families in her ward where the parents were in need of help, she would come to their homes weekly and do dishes, laundry. She brought meals, often secretly. If she went to Costco she bought a rotisserie chicken and made a soup for a neighbor. She did these acts of love and kindness at an age when most people would hope to be receiving rather than giving.
Valda was always working to learn and understand humor. She would laugh when she heard a joke, laugh again a few days later when she got the joke, and again when she tried to retell the joke somehow weaving the punchline in too early. Those who knew the sequence love the retelling as much as the original joke. True to form as in most things she attempted, she would eventually master the telling.
Valda’s last weeks were spent in the Rocky Mountain Care Center of Logan, Utah. She was so very tired of her failing body, inability to do the most basic tasks including walking and talking. Yet she kept her mind bright and her hands busy, determined to spend every minute the Lord gave her doing something worthwhile. She got an iPad and continued genealogical name indexing. She added the study of algebra and Spanish. She studied scriptures and church magazines “from cover to cover,” as she put it. After she found that on the iPad she could access every church magazine ever printed, she said, “I’ve got a lot to do before I die!”