Virginia Wilson Johnson, 96, passed away peacefully at Cardinal Ridge Assisted Living Center in Surgeon Bay, on Friday morning, October 19, 2012.
Virginia Julia was born in Egg Harbor, WI on May 9, 1916 to Max and Lucy (Toft) Wilson. She grew up on the Wilson family farm on County V in Jacksonport, and graduated from Sevastopol High School in 1934. She continued her education by attending Door Kewaunee Normal in Algoma, graduating in 1936. During the summers of her high school and college years, Virginia worked at the Toft Family Resort, in Baileys Harbor, now the Toft Point state natural area. She was the kitchen girl, who cooked alongside her aunt, Emma Toft, using fresh fish, and garden produce to provide delicious meals for the guests. Virginia would also tramp thru the woods along Mud Bay, fighting mosquitoes, searching for the small red wild thimbleberries, to make jars of thimbleberry jam.
Virginia began her teaching career at Liberty School in the town of Liberty Grove. She also taught in Ellison Bay and Jacksonport. While teaching in Ellison Bay, Virginia met her future husband, George William Johnson. They were married on the farm in Jacksonport on a cold and icy day, January 17, 1942.
They moved to Green Bay, where George was employed as the chief engineer on a Reiss Coal Company harbor tug. It was in Green Bay where their children, Judy and Bill, were born. Following George’s early death on September 5, 1962, Virginia returned to school, earning her degree in Elementary Education from UW Oshkosh in 1965. She was a teacher in the Howard-Suamico schools, and also taught at Whitney and Ann Sullivan in the Green Bay School District until her retirement in 1979.
Virginia was truly a Door County girl. She and George had a cozy little red cottage on Little Sister Road in Sister Bay, which was always open for picnics, hikes, fish boils, and waterskiing for The Little Sister Gang.
Upon retirement, she moved to her home on North Bay in Baileys Harbor, which became another magnet for family and friends, especially her 4th of July celebrations, with hand cranked ice cream and angel food cake with fresh strawberries. She was known for her ebleskivers, the round Danish pancakes that all of her family have learned to make.
An avid volunteer throughout her life, Virginia graciously gave back to her community through several local organizations. Her appreciation and conservation of the great outdoors was exemplified by her commitments and life memberships to The Ridges Sanctuary, and The Friends of Toft Point. In addition, she supported the history of Door County thru The Maritime Museum and The Jacksonport Historical Society. She was a member of Hope Church, the Door County Retired Teachers Association, and the Wisconsin Retired Teachers. She especially enjoyed reading to nursing home and hospital residents thru The Friends of The Library.
Virginia was a member of the Scand Resale Shop which has become Bargains Unlimited in Sister Bay. She would wash and mend donated clothing items in the early days of this organization. After learning to quilt at The Clearing in Ellison Bay, she participated in quilting groups at Scandia Village and the Sturgeon Bay Library, creating many beautifully hand-crafted gifts that were shared with friends and family over the years.
She is survived by her daughter, Judy (Jon) Hollingshead of Sturgeon Bay, and son, Bill (Kris) of Green Bay; four grandchildren, Julie (Scott) Souza of Plymouth, MA, Tom (Janelle) Hollingshead of Chicago, IL, Allison (Brian) Miller of Kenosha and Amanda (Jacob) Gullick of Madison; and two great-grandchildren, Will and Charlotte Souza. She was preceded in death by her husband, George W. Johnson, parents, Max and Lucy Toft Wilson, two brothers Wesley and Harry (Kathleen) Wilson and sister, Harriet Wilson.
Virginia appreciated her family history in Door County. She had the greatest relationship with her children and grandchildren, who loved and respected her. Ever the teacher and prolific reader, she shared her love of nature and the beautiful world of Door County with each of them, and this will be passed on to her great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Virginia’s life will be held on November 17, 2012 at Hope Church, 141 S. 12th Avenue, Sturgeon Bay, WI, at 11:00 AM with Rev. Phillips Sweet officiating. There will be visitation at the church from 10:00 AM until the time of services at 11:00 AM. Please join the family for a lunch following the service.
Burial will be made in Little Sister Cemetery in Sister Bay, WI.
Memorials to The Ridges Sanctuary will be used to help fund the summer children’s programs.
The Johnson family is especially grateful and thankful for Kris Dart and the staff at Cardinal Ridge, and Amanda, Jackie, Elaine, Courtney, the staff of Southern Care Hospice, and the Hope Circle Singers for their musical visits.
Huehns Funeral Home is assisting the family. Sign online guestbook and offer condolences at http://www.huehnsfuneralhome.com/.