Mary Bess Johnson passed away on August 15, 2017, after suffering a heart attack in her sleep the night of August 13, from which she never awakened. Mary was a beloved teacher, friend, co-parent, honorary grandmother, and partner. Born on May 5, 1943, to Lewis and Betty (Clark) Johnson, she obtained her Master’s Degree and worked as a teacher throughout her life.
Mary taught mainly at Steele Elementary School in Colorado Springs, and is remembered by so many of her students as inspirational and influential in their educational careers. Many have said she was their favorite, and most memorable and revered, teacher. In 1984 Mary received the El Paso Council PTA Crystal Apple award as Teacher of the Year. Her relationships span decades and generations, having sometimes taught the children, and even grandchildren, of her former students at Steele. After her retirement from teaching, she became a founding board member of Kidpower of Colorado, and remained on the board for eleven years.
Mary’s many friends will tell you that she could and would talk to anyone, especially children. She was happiest wherever she found a community of friends, and loved going on “microadventures” with them. Mary maintained a long path of relationships everywhere she has lived from Nebraska, to Colorado Springs, to Boulder.
She was honorary grandmother, “Memaw,” to Georgia and Lauren Cure. She loved the girls mightily, and embraced her role, regularly expressing gratitude that she was given this opportunity by Anne and Paul Cure.
Mary gave her life partner, Mary Friedrichs, 25 years of commitment, connection, adventure, travel, and co-parenting to Mary F’s children, Luis and Mara Monroy. Two years ago, Luis married Whitney Small, and Mary played a special role among Whitney’s several mothers-in-law, passing her mother’s engagement ring on to Luis to give to Whitney.
Known to friends as “the Mary’s,” they moved to Boulder in 2005 when Mary F. began working at CU-Boulder. Leaving Colorado Springs was not easy for Mary J., having lived there and been embedded in the community for over 40 years. However, she quickly re-embedded herself in the Boulder community. She loved living in Boulder and never regretted the move as long as she could maintain her longer-term friendships in the Springs.
A memorial service followed by a celebration of life will be held at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 7520 S. Boulder Rd., Boulder, CO 80303 on Sunday September 24, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. Following the service, there will be a reception with food and drinks at the church.