Sadly, in March 2021, the community of Livermore lost one of the most kind and wonderful women when Ellen Styles Johnson passed away just five weeks shy of her 94th birthday, after succumbing to cancer.
Ellen was born in Michigan in 1927, attended elementary and secondary school in Detroit, and graduated from Shimer’s Junior College, then Albion College, with honors. In college, she served as president of the “Independent Women’s League,” pursuing equal rights for women attending colleges. After college, Ellen went to work for Demery’s department store where she furthered her education at the Wayne University Retail School and earned her certification in the newly emerging field of “employee human resources.” Her hard work at Demery’s was rewarded with numerous promotions in a few short years and she was very proud of her high-paying job.
Ellen’s brother, Scott, introduced her to Donald Martin Johnson in 1953. The couple married in Michigan in 1955, and, in 1958, they moved west to settle in Livermore. Children soon followed, and Ellen lived a fulfilling life as a devoted mother to her three daughters, Jean, Lois, and Mary. In support of them, Ellen volunteered many hours as a classroom parent, a Girl Scout leader, a 4-H leader, and as a member of the school’s parent teacher organization.
When the children were grown, Ellen furthered her volunteering, dedicating her time at many senior centers. Her bright smile, kindness toward all, and renowned spaghetti feasts will be missed by many.
Ellen’s lifelong passion for cooking led her to join the Del Valle Home Economists Club. She had the pleasure of working with numerous honored chefs, and in due course, she applied her extensive skills as a culinary instructor at the Livermore and Pleasanton Senior Centers. She was an avid collector of kitchen tools and had a massive collection of cookbooks. She and Don traveled frequently to culinary destinations around the world, and she loved going out to eat, as well as having meals with her family and friends to celebrate any occasion.
In addition to the Home Economists Club, Ellen was an active member of the AAUW, the British American Club, and the Livermore Women’s Investment Club. After Don retired, she joined the women’s offshoot of SIRs, as a SIRette, and was a member of the local senior center travel groups.
In 2010, Ellen and her beloved dog, Iris, moved to the Rosewood Gardens Retirement Community, where she continued to make new friends and enrich her life as a truly invincible senior, with a zest for life and always open to new discoveries.
Ellen’s legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone she interacted with. In these moments of deep heartbreaking grief, we remind ourselves how fortunate we were to be blessed by a person who loved us all so greatly that she will always occupy a huge part of our soul. One of the most important things a mother can do is pass on their exceptional traits, and we can only hope that the kindness, compassion, strength, and generosity she has shown us, over the years, remains within us as we mourn her passing and celebrate her life.
Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, George and Olah Styles; her husband, Donald Martin Johnson; her grandson, Kyle; and her brother, Scott Styles. She is survived by her daughters, Jean Price (Mike) of Danville, Lois Laza (Paul) of Brentwood, and Mary Dugan (Randall) of Montana; as well as five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Ellen is also survived by several family members overseas in the UK and many loving friends.
Ellen will be celebrated by family and friends in July. Please contact the family at CelebrateEllenJ@gmail.com for more details, or Callahan’s Mortuary at 925-660-7098. Callaghan Mortuary is honored to be serving the Johnson family. An online guestbook is available for condolences at www.callaghanmortuary.com.