Norma Freeman Johnson,
September 7, 1932 - February 17, 2023
Age 90, died on February 17, 2023 after a brief illness, in Wilmington, DE. She was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa to Ellen Johnson Freeman and Carl William Freeman, the second of five children. After early years in Illinois, the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where her father served for the rest of his career as pastor of the First Covenant Church. She earned an associate’s degree in pre-nursing from North Park College in Chicago, IL and graduated from the University of Nebraska Nursing School in 1955. In 1956, she met Dale Johnson at a joint young adult Sunday school class held with a nearby Lutheran church, when he was home from college on summer break from Colgate University. By spring, they had bought a car together, and she moved to upstate New York to continue her nursing studies closer to Dale. After his graduation, his studies took him to Oxford University, and Norma joined him in 1958 to be married in the chapel of Worcester College. For their honeymoon, they traveled 3,000 miles across Europe on a scooter. Dale and Norma were married for 55 years.
In her early career, Norma worked as a public health nurse, making in-home visits and treating patients in Oxford, England; Chicago; and New York City. She took pride in her job and enjoyed the independence of working in the public health field. Later, after an extended hiatus, she returned to nursing and worked at a public family planning clinic in Nashville and then at Planned Parenthood. She remained a strong advocate for women’s health and Planned Parenthood for the rest of her life.
Norma and Dale had three children, Eric, Kristin and Stephanie. They watched with joy as their family expanded to include daughter-in-law, Katy and sons-in-law Sandy and Kent, and eventually six grandchildren. After Eric’s heartbreaking death in 2003, she held her family even dearer.
She was a gracious and kind person with a calm and quiet demeanor, a warm smile, and an always sensible outlook. She was sensitive to the needs of others, and she lifted those around her with her persistent optimism and her belief in the abilities of others. Fiercely proud of her grandchildren, she orchestrated ways to display their talents for her assisted living facility when they would come to visit. Despite her physical challenges in her last few years, due to Parkinson’s disease and a stroke, she remained positive and never failed to thank those who helped her in any way.
Norma was preceded in death by her husband, Dale Johnson, their son, Eric Johnson, and her brothers, William Freeman, Robert Freeman, and Charles Freeman. She is survived by her children Kristin Johnson (Sandy Geeganage) of Wilmington, DE and Stephanie Johnson (Kent Wayland) of Charlottesville, VA; daughter-in-law, Katy Fink-Johnson of Denver, CO; six grandchildren, Nicholas and Benjamin Johnson, Grace and David Geeganage, and Madelyn and Erica Wayland; and sister, Marilyn Green of Rockville, MD.
Norma and her family appreciated the kindness and support offered by her friends and extended family and the supportive care of the staff of Harbor Chase Assisted Living and AccentCare Hospice at Wilmington Hospital.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3201 Hillsboro Road, Nashville, TN, with a reception following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in her memory to Planned Parenthood, the Eric Johnson Memorial Fellowship at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC, or the charity of one’s choice.