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Marileen Elizabeth Johnson

January 18, 1927 – 2021

Marileen Elizabeth Bolay Johnson was born in Falls City, Nebraska to Charles and Elsie Bolay. At 18 she left the farm for Westmar College graduating with a B.S. in Biology and meeting her beloved husband Don. In 1951, Don and Marileen were married and the adventure began. They moved to Boston in 1955 where Don attended graduate school at Boston University and Marileen taught at Honeywell Elementary in Wellesley, MA (her granddaughter later attended Wellesley College). An educator at heart, Marileen’s career as an elementary school teacher grew to working with adults developing, publishing and teaching Parent Education Programs throughout the world.


Soon, Marileen and Don were the parents of two daughters, Ann and Mary. They lived and worked in churches throughout Massachusetts and later Iowa. In 1977, they joined th eInstitute of Cultural Affairs, a global community of non-profit organizations advancing human development worldwide. Being part of the ICA they developed life long friendships through their activism.


Marileen’s kind smile hid a Warrior for social justice. A member of the League of Women Voters for over 50 years and an active member of Planned Parenthood since 1987, Marileen assisted national and local leaders to achieve office, and pass legislation as well as working on Peace Education and Peace Initiatives.


In retirement Don and Marileen fulfilled their desire to travel with trips to China, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, Europe and Mexico. Eventually they settled in North County of San Diego, where they could enjoy being part of their grandchildrens’ lives, attending baseball games, soccer games, football games and birthday parties. Daughter, Granddaughter, Sister, Mother, Aunt, Grandmother, Wife, Educator, Social Justice Warrior, Friend, of all these roles and many others she played throughout her life, being a Grandmother to Robert and Sophia brought her the greatest joy in her later years and she took her role as Grandmother seriously. A trip to legoland was always planned on a visit to Grandma’s house. Although cooking was not one of Marileen’s favorite pastimes she did have her specialties, Grandma’s waffles were famous with the under ten crowd as well as her Christmas cookies and lemon meringue pie.


Marileen is survived by her husband, J Donald Johnson, her daughter Ann, grandchildren Robert Khoury and Sophia Khoury, and her sister Anna Marie Worden.

Marilee and Don were part of the Local Church Experiment. They worked in the LCX in Salt Lake City and were part of the Edmonton Religious House in Canada. John and I met them when they were in Iowa and we were in Kansas City and later back in Chicago. Their teenaged daughter Mary Johnson was part of the Student House and later became a teacher with handicapped students at the time of her too early death in 1983.


Don and John shared an avid interest in golf as well as the Local Church. Our connections rekindled when John began his writing. Their work in local community has been legendary with both California politics and environmental concerns.  I recall that Marileen  and Don were part of the Campaign Managing team for John Gibson’s run for Mayor of Indianapolis.  Marilee’s Christmas letters of all that she was doing with schools  (she also was an educator) and local actions made me dub her as one of the Energizer Bunnies.  Don and Marileen were married for 70 years!!!


We celebrate the life and service of this family and the completed life of Marileen. We give thanks for journey and friendship we shared.

          ~~  Lynda Cock