Wanda Mae (Thorn dyke) Johnson, 78, died in the Good Shepherd Hospice House on May 28, 2014, in the presence of her husband and children.
She was born in Pontiac, Ill., on Feb. 26, 1936, the daughter of John Joseph and Hilda Florence (Freiden) Thorndyke. Wanda grew up on the family farm near Charlotte, Ill., and attended a one room rural school there. She was active in 4-H and once showed sheep in the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. She attended Saunemin Township High School and graduated as class valedictorian in 1954.
She had an intense love of music that was obvious in her grade school piano lessons and this dictated many of her high school activities. These included playing the saxophone in the Concert Band, Orchestra, Pap Band and the All-State Band and singing in the Glee Club, Ensemble and the County Chorus. She attended high school with her future husband, Lowell B. Johnson, for three years but their first date was for his senior prom.
Their courtship continued through her high school graduation in 1954 and while she attended Illinois State Norman University (now ISU) for a year. However, she dropped out of college after the second semester of college on her doctor’s advice when she developed type 1 diabetes. She then took a job with the Livingston County Farm Advisor’s office working with 4-H until her marriage.
Wanda and Lowell were married on August 19, 1956, before his senior year at the University of Illinois. She worked in the Animal Science Department there until his graduation.
They then moved to Elmwood, Ill., where he taught high school for two years. Their daughter, Linda Rae, was born there on October 29, 1957. While there, Wanda served as a mother and as an advisor to a church high school youth group. When Lowell elected to enter Graduate School at Purdue University, they moved to Lafayette, Ind. She worked as a secretary in the Agricultural Economics Department there until their son, David Eugene, was born on June 17, 1960, at which time she became a full-time mother. She went with her husband as he did postdoctoral research in Davis, CA in 1963. They lived there until he accepted a faculty position at K-State in July of 1968.
Her activities in Manhattan were many. These included Welcome Wagon, the K-State Social Club and its various interest groups, delivering Meals on Wheels and the local American Diabetes Chapter. She loved attending plays and concerts. Church activities were a major part of her life, where she taught Sunday school, served on numerous committees and was quite active in the United Methodist Women’s group. There, she received a Special Mission Recognition award in 2008. One of her major pleasures in life was her participation in the College Avenue United Methodist Church Sanctuary Choir for 46 years.
She especially enjoyed her role in the family as mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Her various hobbies included piano playing, crafts, caring for her many house plants, oil and acrylic painting, playing games, exercising and bowling. She had a K-State basketball ticket for 45 years until vision became a problem. She enjoyed camping with the family and later only with Lowell, as they visited parks around Canada and the United States. Rock Mountain National Park was always a favorite. Travels took her to 48 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as trips to Mexico and Europe.
She is survived by her husband Lowell, her son David of Manhattan, her daughter Linda Rae Butler wife of Steven Butler of Wamego and their children Stacy Tidwell wife of Daniel Tidwell of Wamego, and Rebecca Carbajal wife of Freddy Carbajal of Manhattan. She truly enjoyed her two great-grandchildren, Taylore and Bridgette Tidwell. She is also survived by a sister, Phyllis Bunting of Fairbury, Ill. She was preceded in death by her parents John and Hilda Thorndyke, brother-in-law Cleo Bunting and her oldest sister Ella Brown and husband Allan.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the College Avenue United Methodist Church, 1609 College Ave., with Pastor Larry Fry officiating. Interment will follow in the Sunrise Cemetery, Manhattan, Kansas.
Visitation will be from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Monday at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Ave.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, the College Avenue United Methodist Church Choir or to the Good Shepherd Hospice House, Manhattan, in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home 1616 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, 66502.