Nov. 16, 1948-July 13, 2020
Margaret Johnson passed away at her home in Alberton, Montana, on July 13, 2020, at the age of 71. She was born Margaret Suzanne Stahl on November 16, 1948, in Butte, Montana. The daughter of Paul Stahl Jr. and Suzanne (Gilbert) Stahl, she was raised on a small farm outside Dillon, and in her high school years, she, her parents, brother and sister, moved into the historic family home in town.
Surviving a serious throat operation when she was two, she blossomed into a strong, vibrant woman. She possessed a striking beauty and was blessed with a soprano voice. She was selected for a role in “The King and I,” and was the first freshman girl ever selected for the exclusive Teen Tones. She continued to sing throughout her life and was in demand for funerals, graduations, weddings and Christmas programs. Born and raised an Episcopalian, she polished her singing in the church. She was an athlete prior to the official existence of girls’ athletics, always outrunning the boys, including her older brother.
She was a leader and head majorette at Beaverhead County High School, the Worthy Advisor of Rainbow Girls and one of two Girls’ State delegates. She graduated 15th in the Class of 1967 and enrolled at the University of Montana to major in Spanish, minor in English, and earn a certificate in teaching. She was president of the Alpha Phi sorority.
Margaret was born to be a teacher. Her first, last and only teaching job was in Alberton. She taught English and Spanish in a career spanning more than 40 years. Her children, Rachael and Erik, became English teachers, in part, because of her example. She was a grammarian. In a family of four English teachers, she was the go-to person for all grammar questions. She treated all of her students fairly, and their education was paramount to her. She believed students should follow the rules and encouraged them to do so.
Margaret believed in fairy tales where good always overcomes evil. While teaching, she met and married her Prince Charming, Jim Johnson, a fellow teacher.
Nothing was more important than family; that began with her husband, best friend and first and only love, Jim. She gave her love and strength to her children and then her grandchildren, Samantha, Natalie and Jack. She taught them in school and at home, not just about school subjects, but about those things important to her like equality, empathy, etiquette and hard work. She never missed an athletic event, play or concert if her children or grandchildren participated.
She is survived by husband, Jim Johnson, of Alberton; daughter, Rachael, and husband, Chris Clevenger, of Missoula; son, Erik Johnson, and wife, Josie, of Alberton; and grandchildren, Samantha, Natalie and Jack Clevenger. She is also survived by her younger sister, Jeri Jo, and husband, Jerry Clark, of Spokane; and older brother, Paul Stahl, and wife, Judy Morgan, of Helena. There are also numerous cousins, in-laws, nieces and nephews who survive Margaret’s passing.
Margaret’s influence on this world will endure among her family, friends and students.
Her life is an example of decency, kindness, gentleness, honesty and strength.
Donations may be made to charity of the donor’s choice or the Parkinson's Foundation, 200 SE 1st Street, Suite 800, Miami, FL, 33131, or the American Diabetes Association, 2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 900 Arlington, VA, 22202.
As per her request, Margaret’s ashes will be spread later in the year by her family. No public services will be held.
Sign up to get the most recent local obituaries delivered to your inbox.