The people person who pitches in
At 88, Lois Johnson has earned a reputation as a troublemaker.
It’s because she helps too much. At every one of her many senior citizens’ meetings she’s there preparing tea or lunch — having been told it’s someone else’s responsibility.
“I’m a very organised person,” she said. “And I like to have a system to things.”
As such, she gets irritated when she sees people doing things ‘the wrong way’.
“Some look like they don’t know what they’re doing, then chase me out of the kitchen,” she grumbled good-naturedly. “They say, ‘Sit down, sit down’.”
Mrs Johnson doesn’t enjoy sitting. When she has done her morning chores, she likes to spend time with her friends in their homes or in the hospital, if they are unwell.
“I’m a people person,” she said. “But I don’t like people who are negative.”
She joined the Special People’s Club 25 years ago and then added the BIU Seniors’ Club and the Golden Milers’ Club.
The Special People’s Club recognised her dedication and faithful service with a trophy in 2009, and again in 2017.
She grew up in Hamilton on Court Street where her mother, Ruth Greene, ran Greene’s Grill.
Her father, Walter “Dicky” Greene ran Greene’s Guest House in Southampton.
She met her husband, Aubrey Johnson, in the Supreme Court.
“I liked to go and watch trials,” she said. “That was something people did in those days. I just happened to meet him there because he was a policeman and on duty there. We exchanged numbers, and made a date. People called him ‘Tom Copper’.”
They married on August 4, 1963. “He was a nice person,” Mrs Johnson said. “He never gave me any trouble.”
Mr Johnson died from cancer in 1977 leaving her to raise five children on her own — Brenda Hall, Elizabeth Ann Johnson, the late Colin Johnson, Karen Santucci and Shirelle Jones.
Mrs Johnson insisted it was never hard. “I had my husband’s pension,” she said.
“I never had to shout and curse at my children like some people. Some people join their children, like they are friends. I never did that. And they all turned out good.”
In later years, she moved to Cedar Park Road, Devonshire with her daughter Shirelle and her husband Winston Jones.
Tragedy struck when Mr Jones was killed in a motorcycle accident on October 18, 2014.
It was just after Hurricane Gonzalo and, with no power at home, he was taking his son Shirwin to his job to get a shower.
Driving through Hamilton, their bike was hit by another cyclist who ran a red light.
“It was very hard,” Mrs Johnson said. “We were out cleaning the yard and this girl came and said there had been an accident. I think she knew he was dead, but she didn’t say.”
Shirwin was banged up, but physically okay. Mrs Johnson is proud that he is doing well, now.
“He started university in Manchester, England in September to study accounting,” she said.
In December, after a bout of ill health, her family surprised her with a breakfast at the Fairmont Southampton.
She had thought she was going to the hotel to celebrate her granddaughter’s birthday, so she was a little surprised when one of her children whipped a T-shirt over her head.
“She did it so fast I didn’t even get to see what it said. Then she zipped up my jacket so I couldn’t see it.”
Once in the dining room, she was amazed to see 55 of her closest friends and family, all wearing T-shirts.
Then she got to read hers: matriarch. Everyone else in the room had T-shirts based on their relationship to her: sisters, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.
“Even the four-year-olds had T-shirts,” she laughed. “My daughter Elizabeth-Ann organised it, even though she lives in Boston. She was home for Christmas. My family said they wanted to do something special for me while I was alive.”
She was deeply touched. “I broke down when everyone had to give a little speech,” she said. “I am a very emotional person.”
• Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them