Donna May John­son

May 26, 1943 - Dec 12, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - LIFE TRIBUTES -

Donna May (Arm­strong) John­son of Mill Val­ley passed away peace­fully from com­pli­ca­tions due to Alzheimer’s Dis­ease on Tues­day, De­cem­ber 12, 2017, in San Francisco. She was 74 years old. Donna was born on May 26, 1943, in Phoenix, AZ to Don­ald and Vir­ginia Arm­strong, and spent her for­ma­tive years in Westch­ester (Los Angeles County), at­tend­ing Cowan Av­enue Ele­men­tary, Orville Wright Ju­nior High, and grad­u­at­ing from Westch­ester High School in 1961. She at­tended West­mont Col­lege in Mon­tecito (Santa Bar­bara County), grad­u­at­ing in 1965 with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in English Lit­er­a­ture and a mi­nor in Health Sci­ences. Donna went on to earn a mas­ter’s de­gree in Phys­i­cal Ther­apy from the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and co-au­thored two peer-re­viewed ar­ti­cles on pe­di­atric mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy in 1971.

Donna mar­ried her West­mont Col­lege sweet­heart, John John­son, in De­cem­ber 1967 and they moved shortly there­after to San Francisco, a cou­ple of blocks from the old Kezar Sta­dium. With John tak­ing post­ings as a den­tal sur­geon for the US Navy, they lived in San Diego and White Sands, New Mex­ico, be­fore set­tling in Mill Val­ley in the home in which Donna would spend the rest of her life. Donna worked in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties across the North Bay as a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist prior to the birth of her first child, John Eric, on De­cem­ber 26, 1976, who trag­i­cally passed away at just un­der 2 months old from Sud­den In­fant Death Syn­drome on Feb­ru­ary 17, 1977. Her son Aaron David was born May 29, 1978, and a third child, Andrew James, was born Feb­ru­ary 17, 1981.

Vol­un­teer­ing at Mill Val­ley Pub­lic Li­brary in the early 1980s, Donna even­tu­ally se­cured a part-time paid po­si­tion as a li­brary as­sis­tant. Hav­ing de­ter­mined to be­come a li­brar­ian, she be­gan stud­ies in Li­brary and In­for­ma­tion Science at San José State Univer­sity in the late 1990s, re­ceiv­ing her mas­ter’s de­gree in 2000. This al­lowed her to be­come a full-time ref­er­ence li­brar­ian at Mill Val­ley Pub­lic Li­brary, where she also co­or­di­nated vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity out­reach until retiring on her 65th birth­day, in 2008.

Ever ath­letic, Donna was an avid yoga prac­ti­tioner, hiker, and mountain biker, who rev­eled in ex­plor­ing the hik­ing and bik­ing trails of Mount Tam and the Marin Head­lands. She en­joyed vis­it­ing San Francisco fre­quently, at­tend­ing the sym­phony and vis­it­ing mu­se­ums, and ex­plor­ing the small, out-of-the-way places un­known to tourists that make the city so in­ter­est­ing. She was also an ex­plorer by car and en­joyed ad­ven­tur­ing through­out the west coast in her blue Volvo sta­tion wagon, from the North Coast Red­woods and the East­ern Sierra, to the beaches of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and the Pa­cific North­west. She was a kind­hearted, gen­er­ous, and gen­tle soul with a sly wit and hearty laugh. She trea­sured her fam­ily and friends and made a last­ing im­pres­sion on those who knew her well. She is sorely missed but lives on in trea­sured and lov­ing mem­ory.

Donna is sur­vived by her sons Aaron (Maya) of Mill Val­ley and Andrew (Cristina) of San Rafael; her grand­chil­dren Sofia, Gil­lian, Mila, and James; her long­time part­ner and SJSU class­mate Ken Lyons of Santa Cruz; and many other dear friends and loved ones. A cel­e­bra­tion and re­mem­brance of Donna’s life will be held Satur­day, May 26, at the Mountain Home Inn on Mt. Tam from 11am to 2pm. Any­one with thoughts and mem­o­ries to share is most wel­come to at­tend. In lieu of flow­ers, please make donations in Donna’s name to Marin Agri­cul­tural Land Trust.

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