Carol Johnson, Dedicated Teacher, Art Lover
Carol Jean “Cookie” Gustafson Johnson, of Scarborough, ME, passed away peacefully on July 15, 2021 at Piper Shores Retirement Community. She was 89, and the widow of Roger Alan Johnson, who died July 27, 2015.
Carol was born on December 16, 1931 to Mabel Turnquist Gustafson and Albin Gustafson in Duluth, MN. She grew up in Chester Park, Duluth where she enjoyed skating, skiing, and tobogganing with her family during the long winters.
Family lore has it that the first time Roger saw Carol she was doing cartwheels on the country club fairways at Pike Lake, where both their families had summer camps.
Both Carol and Roger graduated from Chester Park High School and went on to earn B.A.s at Northwestern University in Chicago. Roger continued his education, earning his Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT. They were wed on June 20, 1953 in Duluth, MN. The young couple then moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Roger was ordained as a Lutheran minister.
In 1957 they moved to Cambridge, MA where Roger earned his Doctorate of Divinity from Harvard. That same year Carol traveled by train to visit her parents in Duluth while pregnant with her first child, Peter James Johnson. Tragically, her mother passed away unexpectedly before her arrival.
The Johnsons moved to Wellesley, MA when Roger was hired by Wellesley College to teach Biblical Studies and they were living in faculty housing when Carol gave birth to their second son, Nils Stephen Johnson in 1959. With the help of Carol’s father (Zaza) the couple purchased a farm in Sweden, Maine where the family spent decades of enjoyable summers with friends and fellow theologians. Carol gave birth to their only daughter, Kristina Ingeborg Johnson in 1961.
Carol had a long career as a elementary school teacher. In the mid-60s she taught in Roxbury, MA, prior to integration and bussing, and then, for many years, in the Newton public school system. Carol and Roger attended University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square, Cambridge, which she considered the center of her family’s spiritual and social life. She volunteered in a women’s prison, convened poetry and playwriting groups, and organized trips to Europe to view works of art. Though married and a mother of three, she saw herself as an independent woman.
At Wellesley College, Roger earned a reputation as a scholar, mentor, and visionary architect of the religion department. https://magazine.wellesley.edu/fall-2015/roger-johnson During his 1968–69 sabbatical, Roger taught at Chung Chi College in the New Territories, Hong Kong, and brought his family along with him. While Peter attended King George V and Nils and Tina attended the American International School in Hong Kong (Kowloon), Carol taught Conversational English to 14-year-old Chinese boys and studied Asian culture.
Carol was passionate about politics, culture, art and literature. While in Hong Kong, she collected Asian ceramics, oriental rugs and paintings. In the mid-80s she worked diligently toward a Masters in Art History at Framingham State University. After her retirement, Carol became a docent at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Her favorite American artist was Grant Woods, who painted American Gothic.
Carol was predeceased by her husband Roger (d. 2015) and her sister Betty G. Celesta-Eichhorn (d. 2013), and her brothers, Earl B. Gustafson (d. 2018) and Jim Gustafson (d. 2014). She is survived by her children; Peter J. Johnson, and his wife Margaret W. Johnson of Ipswich, MA; Nils S. Johnson and his wife Rebecca W. Buyers, of London, England; Kristina I. Johnson, of Weymouth, MA, son-in-law Timothy Neves, and her grandchildren: Affly Johnson of London, England, Morgen Johnson of Exeter, England, Gustaf W. Johnson, of Saco, ME, and Emma Rose Neves, of Newton, MA.
Carol and Roger shared a love of learning and their liberal ideals remain a presence in the many people their lives touched.
There will be a Memorial Service for Carol on Saturday, August 7th at 11 am at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church 350 US Route 1 Scarborough, ME 04074. The interment will be scheduled for Summer 2022 in Sweden, Maine.
The Johnson family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Sweden Food Pantry, 137 Bridgton Road, Sweden, Maine 04040 * (207) 647-5735 * SFP@SwedenFoodPantry.org
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