Shirley Johnson Memorial Service 29th of July at noon Faith United Methodist Church
SHIRLEY J. JOHNSON, passed away Monday, April 22, 2019, after a 32-month battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. She received therapy from top cancer centers, including MD Anderson Cancer Center, the number one cancer center in the United States. “Shirley was the kindest, most sincere person I have ever known.” – Roland Johnson. Born June 29, 1944 in McKenzie, Tenn., she was the daughter of the late Rozella Elizabeth (Washum) Burson and Hugh Burson Jr. She spent her childhood growing up in Elkhart, Ind. Music was a life-long passion and she studied piano, organ, saxophone and voice. Her earliest jobs were playing at church and teaching piano. She played in various music groups and during her college years was employed by the Ball State University Music Department. Her college years accomplishments included being a finalist in the Miss Ball State Pageant. This was a preliminary for Miss Indiana and Miss America Pageants and it was unusual for a black female to be supported by the white community during the mid-1960s. Shirley was a member of the Kappa Tau Sigma Sorority, the founding sorority of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Ball State University. She received her Bachelor of Science with a major in Social Science and a minor in piano at Ball State University. She also received a Master’s Degree from Ball State University. She obtained her certification in counseling and school administration. She completed an additional two years of graduate studies at several universities after completing her Master’s Degree. Shirley taught history and geography at Test Junior High School in Richmond, Ind. and was a guidance counselor at Franklin Junior High School, Snider High School and Northrop High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. She was a Fort Wayne Community Schools Chapter 1/Title 1 Parent Coordinator and Assistant Principal at Whitney Young Elementary School. Leadership positions included charter member and President of Jack & Jill of America – Fort Wayne Chapter, President of The Links, Inc. – Fort Wayne Chapter, President of Northwood Park Association, and Vice President of Unity Performing Arts Board of Directors. She served as a board member of Family and Children Services, Fort Wayne Education Foundation/Questa, and Headwaters Park Alliance. Additional service included the Voices of Unity Task Force Committee, Junior League and various educational and professional organizations. Shirley loved doing things for her family and others. She loved traveling with family, collecting art, and discussing politics. She was an active member of Faith United Methodist Church where she was involved in the church music ministry, Bible Class, Staff Parrish Committee and Martha’s Circle. Shirley is survived by her devoted husband, Roland H. Johnson, and her daughter, Sharlese R. Johnson, whom she lovingly shared her life with; her brother, Victor (Antoinette) Burson; nephew, Brandon Burson; grandniece, Carmen Burson; along with a host of other relatives and friends. She was also preceded in death by a special aunt, Roberta Britt. A Memorial Service will be held at a later date to honor the life of Shirley.