Wanda Johnson passed away peacefully at Garden Valley Retirement Residence on January 2, 2018, at age 91. She was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Roatus Devine and Lela Odom. The family soon moved to a farm in Oklahoma City. Wanda and her four siblings loved those five acres and going to movies, roller-skating and ice-skating. After graduating, she worked at an airbase nearby and met Burke Johnson, an Air Force corporal from Virginia. They married in 1946, at ages 21 and 20 and then constantly moved, due to his work for the government. They lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Maryland and Texas again.
From childhood, Wanda, her mother and her two sisters all showed artistic talent. It was no surprise that as soon as her children were in school she took art classes at the localuniversity in Baltimore, and eventually sold her paintings and taught art classes, beginning a lifetime career in art. In Dallas she joined painting groups that travelled to Mexico. She belonged to the Southwestern Watercolor Society, with her work regularly displayed in city galleries.
Burke and Wanda retired in their fifties, moving to Roseburg, Oregon, in 1981. There she became involved with activities at the Umpqua Art Center, taught classes at UCC, joined the Cass art Gallery and was co-owner of a gallery in Oakland. She joined the Umpqua Valley Watercolor Society and the Ardent Artists, a pastel group. She especially enjoyed a workshop in Scotland near Lindisfarne Island and another in Provence, France centered on the village of Aurel.
She thought western Oregon was the most beautiful place she had ever lived. She had also loved the Gulf Coast and sailing in Texas summers, but the Oregon coast with its lighthouses was her favorite. She loved Roseburg and everyone she met there. Her last four years were spent at Garden Valley Retirement where she thoroughly enjoyed the people and the activities.
Wanda is survived by her daughters Liz Gombart and Rhonda Johnson; her son Alan Johnson; her granddaughter Zoe Gombart; and one sister, Edna Burke.
Her sweetness, kindness, generosity and love of nature and art will be missed by everyone who knew her.
Her memorial service is at Garden Valley Retirement at 2 p.m. on January 31, 2018, on the second floor.