Molly Ann Wilson Johnson: In 1931, long before neo-natal intensive care units, a tiny, two-and a half pound baby was born and surprisingly thrived. The only surviving infant of two sets of twins born to J.C. and Iona Wilson, Molly Ann had that will to live that carried her throughout her 86 years.
After graduating from New Albany High School in 1949, Molly went to Indiana University Medical Center and began nursing school but was forced to return home due to a back injury.
Back in New Albany, she met Mel Johnson. They married in 1952 and were soon busy raising three daughters.
After lobbying Indiana University Southeast to start a nursing program, in 1966, Molly, who was the first applicant to the program, was admitted to its first class. She fulfilled her dream and graduated with an ASN degree in 1968, quite an accomplishment while raising 3 young children. Molly spent more than 30 years as a nurse for Kentuckiana Allergy, PSC. She was an Allied Health Associate Member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. For many years past her official retirement, she continued volunteering at Kentuckiana Allergy.
Always interested in civic service, continually collecting pull tabs, used eyeglasses, stuffed animals, personal toiletries and clothing (which she would meticulously wash, iron, and fold before sending to various missions around the world,) her desire to help others in quiet, simple ways was legendary. She was a lifelong member of Centenary United Methodist Church where she was baptized, married, and devoted countless hours of service. Molly was kind and compassionate, considerate of everyone. In her lifetime, she sent thousands of handwritten notes to people, bought and wrapped small gifts for everyone she knew, made donations to charities, championed the underdog, and worked tirelessly for the cause of education and her beloved Indiana University.
Molly’s passionate devotion to Indiana University and the opportunities it provides resulted in service to the institution. As a life member of the Indiana University Alumni Association, she served as President of the IU Southeast Alumni Association in 1985-86. Previously, in 1978, she had served on the steering committee to form the IUSAA. Molly also served on the Indiana University School of Nursing Alumni Board of Directors and was a life member of the Woodburn Guild. She received several awards from the IU Alumni Association including The Gertrude Rich Award, the Indiana University Alumni Association President’s Award, and the Sue H. Talbot Distinguished Hoosier for Higher Education Member Award.
Molly’s quiet demeanor belied a steel core of strength, and those who knew her understood the “iron fist in a velvet glove” analogy. It was this strength and tenacity that enabled a feeble, premature baby to survive into a woman of grace and dignity, a wife of more than 60 years, mother of 3, grandmother to 8, Great-Grandmother to 18, friend to many, and benefactor to hundreds.
Up until the very end, Molly vehemently declared to anyone who would ask that she was “fine,” and her steely independence and strength was the perfect example of “Do not go gently into the good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
This strong, sweet matriarch will be missed and remembered by her daughters and their families: Melanie (Dr. Kevin Tolliver), Melissa (Bill Gouty), and Michele (Bob Johns), her sister-in-law, Bonnie Wilson, her friends from work, church, IU, civic groups, and various charitable causes around the world. Hers was a life well-lived.
With her usual careful forethought, Molly made notes in contemplation of her own death. She hoped that the following phrase would summarize her life: “Dignity in work. Tranquility in spirit. Excellence in all things.”
A funeral service celebrating Molly’s life will be held at 10 AM Friday September 8, 2017 at Centenary United Methodist Church with burial in SCI-Graceland Memorial Park. Visitation will be at the Market Street Chapel of Seabrook Dieckmann & Naville(1119 E. Market St.) from 5 – 8 PM Thursday and at the church from 9 – 10 AM Friday before the service.
The family requests that memorial contributions be given to: The Indiana University-School of Nursing: For the Florence Nightingale Scholarship Fund: Indiana University Foundation: PO Box 6460: Indianapolis, IN. 46206-6460.