Parish of Leatherhead - Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson died on 12th March 2009 and her funeral took place at Leatherhead Parish Church on 19th March.

Hymn: The day Thou gavest
Psalm 23 - The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want
Reading: Death is nothing at all - (Canon Henry Scott-Holland)
Reading: John, Chapter 14

Tribute and Address: Canon David Eaton (see below)

Hymn: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy

The committal took place on Friday 20th March at Randalls Park.

Those who wished to make donations were invited to send them in Mary's memory to Mencap

Tribute and Address: Canon David Eaton

In giving this tribute I am mindful that although I knew Mary through church life I am grateful to her family for filling in the detail, particularly of her early life, and their own fond memories.

Mary has lived a full and committed life at the heart of her family and her local community. She was born in York and therefore had every right to call herself a Yorkshirewoman. And if people of that county really do speak their mind more than the rest of us, and call a spade a shovel, then perhaps Mary had some of their good common sense and welcome plain speaking.

But despite her northern early beginnings the family soon moved to Hampshire where she lived in the village of Sherborne St John with her parents and brother Jim, where she was brought up.

Her father died suddenly which meant Mary left school before taking her Higher Matriculation. She went to work in the Bank of England. As some of you may know I also worked in a bank on leaving school and sometimes remark on how different banks were then compared to now. Customers had names not numbers. Banks were solvent. But that contrast can be made again with my time and Mary’s. She had stories about having to wear a hat and gloves to go to work and being reported once for carrying her hat (can you believe it?) and not wearing it on the Tube. The it was the days when bankers, who were male, wore top hats for goodness’ sake.

During the War Mary served in the WRNS and her brother Jim was also in the Navy. A postcard address reveals she served in HMS Sea Serpent at Bracklesham Bay, Chichester.

Some of her duties involved listening for submarines and until recently she still knew her Morse Code.

via Margaret Powell

Mary met and married Monty and they lived in Norbury before moving to Leatherhead to bring up their three children, Margaret, Andrew and Cathy in the country. Like her father, her husband Monty was also to die suddenly (and tragically) and it cannot but be that these losses bore in on her and left their mark, as on the whole family.

But overall, for Mary family life has been rich. She greatly enjoyed her children as they grew and created a loving family home for them - not least because she was a great cook in the days when food was food and not entertainment.

Her sense of fun and enjoyment extended to her grandchildren: Alex, James, Bryony, Jennie and Sophie and now Emily and Amy, her great-grandchildren. She had a well-stocked toy cupboard on her landing for grandchildren visits. She also visited them and they loved to see her - which in one case had nothing at all to do with visits to the local doughnut shop!

Mary’s home and where she most liked to be was Leatherhead. An excursion to Bookham (where?) didn’t really work and after Monty died she found the ideal house in Windfield: ideal because it was close to church, the WI, friends and neighbours.

Mary gave her time generously to her community. She was involved with mentally handicapped adults and children, as a volunteer at St Ebba’s and The Manor in Epsom, and at Woodlands Special School in Leatherhead, her good sense and ready companionship coming to the fore.

She was a keen WI member and here in church, where she worshipped regularly, she had many friends and certainly put her shoulder to the wheel. She was a keen flower arranger and she often brought another interest, in antiques, to the church’s benefit. This focussed on our annual fund raiser, The Autumn Market, where all sorts of bits and pieces arrive. To the untrained eye they might look alike, but Mary’s knowledge of china and its true worth made sure of maximum benefit to church funds.
via Alison Wright

Mary also loved the countryside. Earlier walks with the children and the dog translated in later life into her becoming a keen gardener and bird watcher. She had an eye to appearance but also scent in the plants that she chose.

Mary was a special wife and mother and grandmother, an asset to her community, and set an example of service which today all too easily gets lost to view among present generations. And because of these things Mary reaped a rich reward. These are the components of a full life lived with relish and satisfaction. Ill health, towards the end, made life tough going at times and her frustration is not to be under-estimated.

But we have a great deal to be thankful to Mary for, and the life she has lived among us. And because of this she will be much missed and much remembered.

Death is always difficult – when our time comes to embrace it; and when we are left bereft by the loss of someone we loved. In this sense it isn’t ‘nothing at all’. But Canon Scott-Holland is right to draw our attention to continuity. Properly regarded, there is something seamless between this world and the next. And this life is preparation for what is to come. When we are able, as I think Mary has been, to live life with a sense of fulfilment; by living life to the full with enjoyment; by facing tragedy with courage; then our natural inheritance, our eternal clothing, can be slipped on easily and gladly.

And we who are left behind can edge our grief in thanksgiving and praise for those we have lost. Then we know Jesus has prepared a place for us, and walks with us, holds our hand, through the valley of the shadow of death.

Today we pay tribute to Mary with respect and with thanksgiving.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

page added 20 Mar 2009: last updated 23 Nov 13
If you have more photos of Mary or further remembrance to add, please contact Frank Haslam, the editor of these pages.

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