Longtime resident of Elma Frances June Johanson died on May 20, 2014, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia due to acute respiratory failure and aspiration pneumonia. She was 77 years old. Frances was born on June 21, 1936, in Elma to Blair and Edith Thompson.
Frances grew up in Elma and Montesano. She began her education at the White Star School and graduated from Elma High School in 1954. She continued her education by taking classes from Grays Harbor College from 1976-85; typing, graphologist, calligraphy and secretarial classes. She obtained her certification as a Dietary Manager through the University of Florida from 1980-81. She was Washington’s State President of the Dietary Managers Association in 1988-89 and was the Black Hills District President in 1987-88. She attended Dietary Managers conferences in LasVegas, Nev., SanAntonio, Texas, Nashville, Tenn., Orlando, Fla., SanFrancisco, Calif., Boston, Mass., and traveled to Alaska twice.
Frances started her working career in 1971-72 working at Oaksridge Golf Club and Restaurant in Elma in the dining room and as a short-order lunch cook. In 1972-77, she worked at Grays Harbor Community Action Program in Elma as a secretary/relief cook. In 1978-82, she worked at Oakhurst Convalescent Center in Elma as a therapeutical cook/dietary assistant. From 1982-89, she worked at Grays Harbor County Jail in Montesano as a relief matron cook. From 1989 to 2006, she worked at the Grays Harbor County Jail in Montesano as a matron cook. She retired in 2006 after 17 years of dedicated service to the county to take care of her ailing husband. Frances was the last deputized matron cook for Grays Harbor County. She loved her job at the jail and enjoyed everyone she worked with especially the jail trustees. She had many stories of funny, goofy things that happened in the jail kitchen, she always thought it would be a perfect sitcom and wished she had written a book about her job at the county jail.
Frances’ passion in life was her artistic talent. She started in school by painting, designing pictures and signs for classmates and teachers. Her parents took her and her sister, Florence on a trip of the United States when she was 12 years old. Her father built a camper on a truck for the trip and she remembers everywhere they stopped people approached them and wanted to see the camper. She also remembers not seeing any other camper on the highways of the United States. When she was in high school she did a book report on the trip focusing on Colorado and drew many pictures for the book. She loved to paint and was featured in the East County News, July 3, 1985, for her reverse glass paintings. She painted on glass not canvas and always painted wildlife figures. She painted campaign signs for local politicians and painted designs on boats. Frances loved to crochet and knit, she could look at a pattern in a magazine and go home and create that pattern, making afghans, scarfs and hats. She crocheted tote bags, rugs and hats out of plastic grocery sacks. She sewed tote bags out of animal feed sacks. Her favorite thing to sew and create was her sock monkeys made out of the red heel socks; she would always crochet pants and hats for each monkey and always said she would never sell a naked monkey. She made a total of 132 monkeys, and had enough socks to make 72 more. She could sew and make just about anything anybody wanted doing all of her sewing on a Minnesota A treadle sewing machine (not electric). She made jewelry out of glass beads; bracelets, necklaces and earrings. She made quilts, pillows, hand embroidered quotes and framed them as pictures. She loved making Christmas decorations out of just about anything, making horses and bears out of wine corks, snowmen out of sand dollars from the beach, angels out of insulin bottles, miniature furniture out of sticks from the woods, made pigs out of women’s panty hose, you name it she could make it. Frances could not just sit and watch a show on TV; she had to be making something with her hands. She always said it was a waste of time to just sit and do nothing. She enjoyed and could not wait to attend and sell her creations at the annual Christmas Bazaar at the GH County fairgrounds. She was a very talented cake decorator making well over 100 special order cakes mostly wedding cakes. She catered many events for local churches in Elma.
While in rehabilitation at Panorama in Olympia, Frances’ last craft project was for her cousin Robin of Seattle. She hand crochet 100 covers for wooden coat hangers and attached the covers to the hangers. Robin picked up the hangers on May 17th and ordered another 100 covers. When Frances passed on May 20, she had eight of the second 100 covers done.
Frances collected hummingbirds, birds, Garfield figurines, earrings and craft supplies for her many projects. She looked forward to her monthly lunch meetings with her cousins; they would frequent the restaurants of Olympia. The cousins also enjoyed the monthly chicken fried steak dinner at the Elma Eagles Club.
She served on the Elma School Board in 1999. Served as a Grays Harbor Election Board Judge and was featured in the Montesano Vidette, Nov. 7, 1985, as one of the workers on the election board for the Delazene Precinct, this was the last precinct in the county where residence could vote at someone’s home, she worked with Jane Afrank and Nan Ostrom at the Ostrom’s home on South Bank Road. She was featured in a magazine call FoodService Director, June 15, 1994, for her recipe for a battered type pizza crust, “Jailhouse Pizza,” while work at the county jail. She was the Elma Grange No. 26 secretary for over 20 years. She was a member of the American Correctional Food Service Association and the Dietary Managers Association.
On July 2, 1954, Frances married Donald Marshall Johanson in Thurston County. They eloped on that day; Donald borrowed a boat from a GHC Sheriff Deputy and met Frances on the banks of the Wynooche River near her parent’s farm on Wheeler Road. They floated down the river and the boat tipped over and Frances could not swim and Donald saved her and they continued their journey down the river to get married. Together they had four children. They acquired their home in south Elma in 1959. They were married for 52 years. They celebrated their (surprise) 25th Wedding Anniversary at the Elma Grange Hall on July 2, 1979. Their children hosted the anniversary. Frances was very proud to say to people that day when they commented on the beautiful cake she made, she said to them “I did not make that cake, my daughter made that cake.”
Frances is survived by her daughter Norma Jean Johanson of Elma, two sons Ronnie Lee (Bonnie) Johanson of Malone and Dirk Alan (Terri) Johanson of Elma. She had seven grandchildren Alicia Johanson of McCleary, Jesse Johanson of Elma, Christopher (Jamie) Johanson of Elma, Marjorie (Jeremiah) Campbell of Grandview, Sheena Johanson-Cayenne of Malone, Leah Johanson-Perez of Elma and Dirk C. Johanson of Montesano. Frances also had eight great-grandchildren Nicole, Anna and Kensi Johanson of Elma; Judah and Makayla Campbell of Grandview; Jace and Jaylee Cayenne of Malone and Heartlynn Johanson of Arizona.
Frances was preceded in death by her son Craig Lewis “Snoop” Johanson of Elma, who died on Sept. 11, 2013, of a massive stroke, he was 53. Her husband Donald Marshall Johanson of Elma who died on Sept. 22, 2006, of dementia/alzheimer’s, he was 82. Her sister Florence June Thompson-Valentine of Montesano and her parents Blair and Edith Thompson of the Wynooche Valley, Montesano.
Frances will be missed by many-many family members and friends. She was always kind, gracious and loving to everyone she met. If you needed help she would help you. She always had an ear to listen to you and words of advice for you, along with a joke or two; she had a great sense of humor. A celebration of Frances’s life will be June 28 at the Elma Grange Hall from 1 to 5 p.m. Please come and share stories you have about Frances with her family.