Alice Johnson remembered

Alice Eva (Schmidt) Johnson, pioneer missionary, professor, and wife of General Superintendent Emeritus Jerald Johnson and mother of General Superintendent Carla Sunberg, passed away 6 February in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 95.

She was born 10 August 1923 in Beiseker, Alberta, Canada. Alice was raised on the prairies of Alberta and completed all local schooling by the age of 12. She attended Calgary Technical School to study tailoring, but after nearly completing the program, she was sent home when it was discovered that she was not old enough to attend. Shortly thereafter, the Schmidts moved to the city and began attending Calgary First Church of the Nazarene.

At age 19, Alice followed God’s call to Canadian Nazarene College (now Ambrose University) in Red Deer, Alberta, and continued her education at Northwest Nazarene College (now University) in Nampa, Idaho. It was in college that she met Jerald Johnson, the young man who brought such joy and levity to her serious nature. The two were married in 1948 and enjoyed over 70 years of marriage and ministry together.

Throughout the years, Alice was a companion and partner in her husband's ministry. The Johnsons pastored throughout the United States, including at Nampa College Church of the Nazarene and Valley Shepherd Church of the Nazarene in Meridian, Idaho. The couple welcomed two sons, Jerry and Dennis, while pastoring in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Alice and Jerald became missionaries, pioneering the Church of the Nazarene's work in West Germany, where Jerald was the first superintendent of the Middle European District. While in Germany, the Johnsons were instrumental in the founding of European Nazarene Bible College, and Alice, with her degree in Christian education, was one of the first professors.

Germany had a profound impact on the entire family, but especially Alice. Having been born in a German-speaking community of Russian-Germans in Canada, Alice was fluent in the language and culture. Two children were born in Germany: Kurt and Carla. Alice welcomed many people into the home, showing great hospitality and serving many a hot meal. As a result, she had numerous German spiritual children.

The family returned to the United States where eventually Jerald Johnson would serve as director of Nazarene World Missions. Later, in 1980, he was elected as general superintendent, a position that he would hold until his retirement in 1997. The couple pastored five more churches in retirement, including one in Germany. In every position Jerald held, Alice matched him stride for stride.

Alice was preceded in death by her parents, Jacob and Anna Schmidt, her sister, Beatrice, along with her brothers, Albert, Calvin, and Harold, as well as her oldest son, Jerry, Jr. Alice is survived by her husband of 70 years, Jerald Johnson; her sisters Hannah Notland and Bernice Wolstenholm Clark; her children, Dennis Johnson (Kathy), Kurt Johnson (Melissa), Carla Sunberg (Chuck); along with her grandchildren: Melanie Pollack (Jeff), Misty Johnson (Jonathan), Robby Johnson, Matthew Johnson, Sarah Johnson, Carmen Johnson, Alex Johnson (Ashleigh), Christa Maciver (Iain), Hilary Swideki (Paul), Cara Shonamon (Justin); her 11 great-grandchildren, and the two who will soon be arriving for whom she prayed daily. 

A celebration of Alice’s life will be held at 10 a.m., February 15 at Valley Shepherd Church of the Nazarene in Meridian, Idaho. Memorials can be made to the Jerald and Alice Johnson Scholarship at Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Nampa Funeral Home, where an online guest book is available.

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