Topeka loses legacy to COVID-19, pneumonia

Pauline Johnson passes away at 95
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 2:16 PM CST
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TOPEKA (WIBW) -- Topekans are mourning the passing of Pauline Johnson, a co-founder of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, who died in Topeka early Thursday morning.

Her son Myron Johnson says she passed away due to a combination of COVID-19 and pneumonia complications. According to her son, Pauline, who was 95, was also an advocate of getting vaccinated against the virus.

Johnson said Pauline will be remembered as a caring and giving “Momma” to 10 children. She lost her husband of 65 years nearly a decade ago.

The family said Pauline was dedicated to giving and supporting her church, Let’s Help, and many other community organizations.

Pauline was the co-founder of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which began in the fall of 1968. For the past five decades, under her leadership, Johnson said she helped with the development of the dinner that started to serve a few hundred meals at a local church. Now, the dinner prepares and serves well over 3,000 Thanksgiving dinners each year.

Each November, Pauline Johnson could be found at the Shawnee Co. Ag Hall overseeing the preparation, serving and fellowship with hundreds of dinner guests and volunteers associated with the dinner. She became friends with everyone who had the privilege of meeting and working with her. Pauline was often called “Grandma Johnson” by hundreds of Topekans.

“The smile, conversation and help of this very loving lady will be truly missed by us all,” said Johnson of his mother.

Myron wanted to remind the community how much she cared for Topeka, its homeless population and fed everyone. He said it was her passion. She was even there helping last November, when the well-known Thanksgiving event only delivered meals to the people who asked for them.

Services for her are still being planned.

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