Bonnie Lea (Hays) Johnson, 98, Saint Joseph, MO

Published 03/19 2014 08:38AM

Updated 03/19 2014 09:01AM

Bonnie Lea (Hays) Johnson, 98 of Saint Joseph, MO., passed away Monday, March 17, 2014 at a St. Joseph health care center.

She was born March 29, 1915 in Watson, MO, daughter of Minnie Belle (Martin) and Charles Alexander Hays.

She graduated from Watson High School 1933. She loved to write and share stories about her family and life in Watson. She wrote the following about meeting her then future husband Virgil Johnson, "This new family moved into Watson… on Saturday night of the Jr. Senior school play I met the girls’ brother, Virgil…and he asked me if he could walk me home after the play." Almost four years later, on January 10, 1936, she married Virgil Morris Johnson at Rock Port, MO. She called herself a farmer. The family moved to St. Joseph about 1953 and started Johnson Seed Service. She was President of the family business until she sold it to her son, Maurice, in the mid 1980’s. She kept the books, drove grain trucks, waited on customers and did whatever else needed to be done to make a living, as she would say. In 1965, she and Virgil attained one of their life long goals when they purchased a farm near Troy, KS. Virgil passed away on August 2, 1971 at the farm with Bonnie and son, Maurice at his side. For the remainder of her years, she actively managed the farm with the help of her family. No one ever doubted though that Bonnie Johnson was in charge and had the final say about the farm operations. She loved to garden, hunt mushrooms, go mudd’in in her pick up truck, hunt for Indian rocks and fished for hours on end with her daughter, Marlene, and all her grandchildren. She loved to embroidery and she quilted at the Moila Shrine Temple with "The Needles" ladies group. She was a profuse letter writer and enjoyed genealogy.

At the age of 95, she became a member of the Columbian Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution. She was life-member of the Sonora Eastern Star chapter, now incorporated with the Fairfax Missouri Chapter. She was a member of the Eagles Lodge in St. Joseph where she loved to dance on Saturday nights for many years. She traveled the world with family and friends and was a very vocal cheerleader at her grandchildren’s sporting and school events. Above all else, Bonnie’s greatest joy in life was being a wife, Mother and Grandmother. She was a fierce protector and endless worrier about "her kids." Bonnie was the true matriarch of her family in every sense of the word.

Bonnie was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, one sister, Gertrude (Trudie) Maupin, and two daughters, Marlene J. Wilson and Merril Sue Fenley.

Survivors include one son, Maurice Johnson and wife Karen of St. Joseph; one daughter, Jerre Ann Robertson and husband Michael of Platte City, MO; two sons-in-law, Lloyd Wilson of St. Joseph and Mike Fenley of Parkville, MO and two sisters-in-law, Betty Johnson of Fairfax, MO and Eva Helen Johnson of Mound City, MO.

She is also survived by her grandchildren, David Johnson, Dana (Pete) Matt, Donna (Jeff) Bruns, Darcy (Steven) Adams, Shawnee Johnson, Sarah (Mike) Roos, Mickey (Erin) Fenley, Emily (Kelley )Boggs, James (Jennifer) Robertson, Chris Johnson and Bonnie Ann (Tom) Meyer; 16 great grandchildren, seven great great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Bonnie Johnson was a humble, accomplished woman who was feisty and will leave an everlasting impression on the lives she touched through all her 98 years. With the deepest of gratitude, Bonnie’s family would like to humbly say thank you to Hands of Hope Hospice, the residents and staff at Vintage Gardens assisted living and especially to the Freudenthal Home Health Care caregivers who have embraced and have loving cared for our Mother/ Grandmother as if she were their own as she lived out her days.

Memorials for Hands of Hope Hospice are suggested.

Funeral services will be conducted at 10:00 AM Friday, at the Rupp Funeral Home, Chaplain David Ernst, and Rev. James Barnett officiating. The Family will receive friends from 6-8 PM Thursday at the Rupp Funeral Home. The interment will be at the Memorial Park Cemetery.

Online condolence and obituary at

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