P. Elaine “Bunny” Johnson, 95, of Onawa, Iowa passed away Tuesday, September 21, 2021, at her residence.
A Celebration of Life Service will be at 10:00 A.M. Saturday, October 16, 2021, at the Onawa United Methodist Church, Onawa, Iowa with Lay Servant Anthony Bainbridge, officiating. Burial will follow at the Onawa Cemetery, Onawa, Iowa. Arrangements are under the direction of Rush Family Care Service, Onawa, Iowa.
Elaine was born January 6, 1926, in Sioux City, Iowa, the daughter of John Oliver and Minnie Helene (Seaton) Woods. During the 4th grade Elaine was given a nickname and is better known today as “Bunny”. At the age of about 6, Elaine and her twin sister, Eileen took lessons and played the violin until the age of 8 or 9 in the Onawa H.S. orchestra until the director relocated. She began playing the cornet in the 4th grade and a quartet was formed in the 5th grade. The four of us, Lyle Foster-1, Eilene-2, Me-3, and Harry Steinberg-4, practiced and played together for four years before Lyle moved with his folks to Manilla, IA. during the War. During the time we were together, we entered District and National Music Contests. As 6th graders (Lyle-7th) we won bronze (3rd place) medals at National, as (Lyle-8th) we won silver (2nd place) medals, and as 8th & 9th graders (Lyle-9th-10th), we won gold (1st place) medals. Around 1943 Elaine toured and played cornet along with her sister, Eilene, in the All-Girl Orchestra to U.S.O.s in the southern Midwest. Going back to 1940 the first girls’ basketball program began at Onawa H.S. and she played the forward position. Elaine graduated from Onawa High School in 1944 and attended Morningside College on a music scholarship. She continued to play in dance bands for several years.
Elaine married Robert “Bob” Johnson on February 14, 1954, in the Onawa Congregational Church due to the uncompleted Sanctuary of the new Methodist Church. Loving mother to three sons: Dennis Odell, Eric Lee, and Michael Robert. Blessed to have celebrated their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries before Bob passed away on September 8, 2014.
In her teenage years, she worked at Moon’s Variety Store, the Onawa Hospital, later as a secretary and temporary deputy clerk at the Monona County Court House. She also worked in Sioux City as an elevator operator and for IPS (Iowa Public Service). Elaine then went to the National Business Training School in Sioux City, Iowa, to become a private secretary at the local R.E.A. (R.E.C.). One summer she went with her dad to Alaska and worked in a laundry and a salmon cannery.
She enjoyed being a Red Cross water safety instructor and life guard for Blue Lake and the Onawa swimming pool. Elaine also worked as a painter with Jim Johnson, and as a carpenter’s helper, off and on for many years. Some of her hobbies were flower gardening, going to garage sales, and antiquing. She enjoyed spending time with her family, church, music, traveling, and having coffee while visiting with friends.
Elaine became a member of The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Onawa, on March 28, 1937. She also participated in the church youth groups, (W.S.C.S.) Women’s Society of Christian Service prior to it becoming the United Methodist Women (UMW) serving as President for a few years. Some of the other organizations she was a member of were: The Onawa Woman’s Club (almost 50 years), Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) since June 11, 1985, D.A.R. Chaplain; Alumni of Morningside, and Neighborly Pals. She taught Sunday School for around fifty years, leading music time with her son, Michael, who accompanied on piano for the last twenty-five years. Bunny enjoyed singing in community choirs, Chancel Choir at her church, also served as choir director and for Women’s Club Chorus. Elaine was a lifelong member (84 years) of The United Methodist Church of Onawa.
Survivors include her children, Dennis (Betty) Johnson of Brainerd, Minnesota, and Michael Johnson of Onawa, Iowa; grandchildren, Rochelle (Shawn) Filiowich, Kevin Johnson, Eric (Susan) Johnson, Jennifer (Heiko) Remecz, Jeff (Stacey) Johnson, and Matthew (Nicole) Johnson; great-grandchildren, MacKenzie Johnson, Allison Johnson, Daniele Filiowich, Ella Remecz, Amber Filiowich, Matthew Johnson, Annika Johnson, Carter Johnson, Owen Johnson, and Gwendolyne Johnson; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bob Johnson; one son, Rev. Eric “Rik” Johnson; parents, John and Minnie (Seaton) Woods; brother Captain Odell Seaton Woods; and sister, Eilene Fjeldos Holt Staples.
Condolences may be left online for the family at www.rushfamilycareservice.com
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