Mary Elizabeth Johnson (1933-2021)

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Mary Elizabeth Johnson, or Aunt Mary E as we called her is from Dickinson, North Dakota.

She was born on 10 Jun 1933 in Fargo, North Dakota while her birth mother stayed at what is now called The Village / LSS; the home for unwed mothers in North Dakota back in the 1930’s. Ward Kendall and Peggy Tommie (Conner) Johnson from Dickinson adopted her. Unable to have their own children they adopted three; Ken, Mary, and Conner.

Mary remained in Prescott, Arizona after retiring and she died at home on 5 July 2021. Her wishes were cremation and no memorial service. I created a FindaGrave page for her.

She grew up in Dickinson and graduated high school in 1951. In 1953, she graduated with a two-year degree from Stephens College in Columbia, Mississippi; a private women’s college that also had an equestrian program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from University of North Dakota, Grand Forks in 1956 and has a Master’s degree from Western New Mexico University.

Most of her professional life was at colleges and universities. She worked at Mary College (now the University of Mary) in Bismarck, at Dickinson State, and finally as Dean of Students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

Mary had horses and her favorite was ‘Sweet Talk’, a registered Morgan.

We convinced Aunt Mary to take an Ancestry DNA test in 2016. DNA shows that her birth mother was Ruth Roberta Brueske (1914-1939) from Barnes County, North Dakota. Her birth father was James Archibald Shaw (1918-1997) from Divide County, North Dakota.

7 thoughts on “Mary Elizabeth Johnson (1933-2021)

  1. We are sadden to hear about this Dear Ladies passing. She will be terribly missed by all who loved her in North Dakota.

  2. We all have had amazing women in our lives! Aunt Mary was one of the best! She will be so missed, but will always be in my thoughts and heart!

  3. I’m so shocked to hear this news. Mary was one of the kindest, dearest, most understanding women ever. She was the dean of students at Dickinson State when I was enrolled there, and became one of my dearest friends and confidantes. Even though there were many years between us in age, they were eclipsed by the wisdom and friendship she provided to a small-town kid who shared many of the same issues Mary had growing up. As anyone who knew Mary, she was the queen of brevity when exchanging notes, letters and Christmas cards. May she rest in peace and know how deeply she was loved by so many. Much love to her family….she is already missed.

    Laurie Volesky Kops

  4. I just learned today October 15, 2021 of Mary‘s passing. I have so many fond and fun memories. I first met her when we were both at the University of Mary I had just been hired to be the women’s basketball coach. We both ended up at Dickinson State for seven years. Continued to stay in touch when she moved to Prescott. She was such a sweetheart and so very professional. I learned a lot from her. My deepest condolences to her family and thank you for posting this online. Also thank you for posting all of these pictures. May she rest in peace.

  5. I just found out tonight that Mary had passed away. I’m so very grateful to you for posting this so I could read it. The pictures are so awesome. I met Mary when we both worked at Mary College (now University of Mary), and we soon became best friends. I went with her to her parents home in Dickinson a few times and they were so nice. Needless to say I fell in love with her beautiful dog “Hey You”. She and my daughter, Tracy, became good friends as well. Tracy has two dogs and Mary took to them like they were hers. Several times a year she would send them cards in the mail, and, came to see them when she was in Bismarck. She was such a joy and would do anything for anyone. I can’t tell you how much she will be missed by this family. I’m sure she is up in heaven taking care of Hey You and Sweet Talk and any other animals that need some special love. Rest well, Mary. You will always be in our hearts and thoughts. Tonander. (that’s what she always called me).

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