After 70 years of living and giving to others, Gail Mahan Johnson of Boone, NC, lost a courageous struggle with cancer on Wednesday, December 23, 2020.
A native of South Hamilton, MA, Gail was predeceased by her parents, Alexis A. and Marjorie M. Mahan, as well as a brother, Douglas Mahan of Spartanburg, SC and an infant granddaughter, Olivia Strickler of Pisgah Forest, NC. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Len Johnson, and by daughters Heather Strickler (Scott), of Pisgah Forest, NC, and Lindsay Johnson, of Durham, NC. She is also survived by her sister, Gwen Ryan (Terry) of Gloucester, MA and her brother, Alex Mahan (Johanna) of South Hamilton, MA as well as her grandchildren, Caroline and Franklin Strickler of Pisgah Forest, NC.
Gail was a member of the Charter Class of Eisenhower College in Seneca Falls, NY. Following graduation, she was appointed as an Assistant Director of Admissions for Eisenhower College and subsequently for Rochester Institute of Technology. It was at Eisenhower that she met her husband in 1972 and supported his career in university administration throughout their marriage.
Early on, Gail lost her central vision due to a retinal disease and was no longer able to drive. Her resilience, determination, and positive thinking were strengthened as she channeled her loss of sight into insight. Her faith and resolve were challenged again with the onset of peripheral neuropathy, a degenerative condition that affected her ability to walk. Never one to give up, she wore out more than one set of leg braces as she persisted to garden and hike many miles to explore and photograph new horizons in the United States and abroad.
She was a joiner and a leader in church and civic activities, and a proud member of PEO, a philanthropic organization supporting college scholarships for women. She prepared Meals on Wheels, led a Girl Scout troop, was a guest instructor on vision loss, befriended and hosted international students and their families, and served as President of the ASU Women's Club. Gail enjoyed leading day trips, participating in Book Club discussions, and playing Mahjong with friends. For many years, she baked countless loaves of bread for cancer patients and led the Comfort Kitchen ministry for those in need of a home-cooked meal. She founded and truly enjoyed the fellowship of a group known as Dinner at Six. For more than a decade, Gail prepared a full dinner at her home once a month and invited "any woman who had lost her husband" to attend – no agenda, no obligations, just pure love and understanding.
She will be remembered in as many ways as she had friends, but always with a joyful spirit, a giving heart, and a lover of all things bright and beautiful. Transcending her own limitations without complaint, she was a source of kindness and inspiration for others.
A Memorial Service to celebrate her life will be shared online during the first quarter of 2021. Further information regarding a link to the service and online visitation will be available as plans are finalized.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to a charity of your choice that focuses on the needs of others, or to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, whose dedicated and caring staff helped Gail through difficult transitions. Address: 902 Kirkwood St NW, Lenoir, NC 28645
Online condolences may be shared with the Johnson family at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Johnson family.