Margaret Graham Johnson peacefully passed away on September 10, 2022 in Corvallis, Oregon after a sudden health decline due to a stroke. Throughout life she gave of herself for faith and family, but beyond that she nurtured connections with friends and extended family far and wide.
Margaret was born at home in Provo, Utah on Aug 29, 1941, the first child of Ray Clegg Graham and Barbara Hanks. The family moved to Burley, Idaho just as she started school, and she grew up there with her six siblings, graduating from Burley High School. She subsequently attended Brigham Young University where she met Hyrum Johnson and fell in love – they were married June 5, 1963 in Salt Lake City, Utah and were together for 47 years. During the course of their marriage they lived in New York City, St. Louis, Missouri, Riverside, California, and Temple,Texas, where they resided for over 30 years. Margaret cared about education: all of her five children graduated from high school in Temple, and she sent each of them to earn degrees at her alma mater. After being widowed in 2010, she made a new home near her daughter Suzanne in Corvallis.
Her role as a mother was of great importance to her and she put countless hours into enriching her children’s lives, from reading aloud to ensuring they had access (and transportation) to swimming lessons, music lessons and ensembles, and sports teams, among other activities. She had wide-ranging interests and modeled the importance of curiosity and learning, and also made sure the kids learned to cook and do household and yard chores. Somehow she also kept her cool while practicing driving with each of her children during their teenage years.
Born just after the Depression to struggling parents but surrounded by a close, supportive extended family, Margaret developed skills and thrifty habits which she passed on. She grew her own produce (especially tomatoes), dried and bottled foods of all kinds, and cooked many things from scratch, including grinding wheat to make delicious bread, to Hyrum’s delight. After learning to sew in her youth, she became a skilled seamstress, making herself and her children (especially her daughters) many things – from Raggedy Ann dolls to dresses of all kinds and even business attire. She had the patience to attend to very small details in her work and made many beautiful formal gowns, including a few wedding dresses.
In addition to the energy and love she gave her family, she filled her life with service, especially through devoted participation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She attended church regularly and held many different positions there, many of them related to music. She loved choral singing and frequently conducted choirs and congregational music. She served in all capacities in the women’s Relief Society and the children’s Primary organizations in the church, and she willingly took on the keeping of records and developing histories for her congregations. She was a faithful and generous friend, especially to those who needed a little extra love and she could often be found making visits, providing rides, and sharing whatever she had. On top of her church service, she volunteered with organizations like Meals on Wheels and community emergency preparedness projects. She loved being able to attend the LDS temple and served weekly in the Portland, Oregon temple for a number of years.
She was generally cheerful, had a quick smile and laugh, and loved to chat with those around her. You could always count on her to be game for most things. She loved to do crossword puzzles and keep up with all the news. She may not agree, but she did have a green thumb and her houseplants are, let’s be honest, way prettier than most people’s. Not that she would ever rub it in, because she really did not have a mean bone in her body.
As her children grew and married, Margaret was quick to welcome sons- and daughters-in-law. She loved to get to know and establish connections with them and their families. When grandchildren were born, she could be relied upon to be very helpful to the new parents. She was good at remembering birthdays and enjoyed participating in special occasions, even when it meant traveling long distances. Funerals, weddings, births, baptisms, graduations, and family reunions were all important opportunities for her. She really loved to be with family to experience their important times and also just talk about the many interesting things in the world. She also loved to learn about her ancestors and often visited places where her ancestral family had lived.
Margaret loved to travel. She drove all over the United States, crossing it several times as she visited far-flung family members. She also made some memorable trips to the Netherlands, England, Spain, Mexico, and Canada. Even in her later years she took long road trips and contemplated more. During the years of COVID-19, technology allowed her to still chat with her faraway family and offer support.
Margaret was preceded in death in 2010 by her husband, Hyrum, her father (1988) and her mother (2021). She is survived by her children: Edward (Nicole) in Eugene, Oregon; Suzanne Woods (Paul) in Corvallis, Oregon; David (Katie) in Tucson, Arizona; Katherine (Brad) in Northfield, Massachusetts; and Christopher (Olivia) in Burke, Virginia. She is also survived by brothers Wayne Graham (Helen) in Springfield, Oregon; Marvin Graham (Vae) in Lehi, Utah; and sisters Carolyn Sappington in Gilbert, Arizona; Laureen Vance (Morris) in Vista, California; Jean Hennis in Twin Falls, Idaho; and Marilyn Morley (Scott) in Malad, Idaho, along with 16 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
A funeral service will be held in Corvallis on Sept 19, 2022 at 11am. Interment will be at Holden Cemetery in Holden, Utah on Wednesday, Sept 21, 2022 at 10am.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to the Latter-day Saint Charities, a local adult literacy program, or, in honor of Margaret’s lifelong routine of donating blood right up to 2022, supporting the American Red Cross.