Community Thanksgiving Dinner continues tradition without one of its co-founders

Community Thanksgiving Dinner volunteers pay tribute to Pauline Johnson
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:12 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Pauline Johnson was the co-founder of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, and continued the tradition for five decades.

Johnson died in January at the age of 95 from a combination of Covid and pneumonia. This dinner will be the first one without her.

Throughout her life, she had one passion to make sure everyone had a warm meal on Thanksgiving.

She was part of a group that included Attie Spicer and Grant Cushinberry, who created the dinner, so no one had to dine alone.

“She has been at every dinner, 54 years of dinners. She touched an awful amount of lives by bringing them into the dinner and we all became such a huge family,” said Dwight Menke, Community Thanksgiving Dinner Treasurer.

On Wednesday night, volunteers, friends and family paid tribute to Johnson, they say without her. There would be no dinner, nor community.

“It takes the dedication, it takes the insight both of them, their whole objective was to serve others. It takes about 200 volunteers that come from the community and she was just the epitome of this project and made it what it is.”

In the center of the Thanksgiving dinner, a picture of Pauline, who also was known as “Grandma” - is displayed surrounded by flowers, to remember her presence is still at the dinner table.

“She was a very very kind giving, it was easy for her to make friends and no one was a stranger to her and it was literally she was grandma to everyone,” he said.

If you would like to volunteer for the dinner, click here.