Berthajean “BJ” Johnson

A Celebration of Life for 92-year old former Sheridan County resident Berthajean Johnson of Omaha will be Sat, Sept 23, at 2:00 CT at the West Center Chapel, 7805 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE. 

An additional celebration will be held in July 2024 in Rushville, NE, where she will be laid to rest in the Fairview Cemetery.

Berthajean Mary (Baldauf) Johnson was born Sep 8, 1930, at home in Hay Springs, NE, to Joseph Baldauf and Mabel Opal (Fisher) Baldauf. She passed away August 26, 2023, in Omaha at the age of 92 years, 11 months, and 18 days.

Berthajean’s name on her birth certificate was Mabel Joann, but it was quickly changed when her grandmother, Bertha Augusta Garska Fisher Felhahn, insisted her name be changed to Bertha since she shared her grandmother’s birthdate. 

Berthajean had several nicknames; her family called her “Babe”, and she usually went by “BJ” to friends and co-workers. Refusing to be called Bertha, she insisted on her full name, Berthajean, as she was the “one and only Berthajean”.

Berthajean attended grade school in Clinton, NE, and graduated from Rushville High School in Rushville in 1948. She earned her Normal Teaching Certification in high school and taught in rural schools in Sheridan County and Gallatin County, MT. 

She later graduated from Chadron State College with a Bachelor of Science in Education with specialization in Library Science, aka School Librarian.

Berthajean Baldauf and Theodore Parker Johnson were united in marriage February 28, 1948, in Rushville, but quickly moved to Montana where they resided until 1964. 

Berthajean always said they would come back home to Nebraska, and when they did they lived in Chadron, North Platte, Hay Springs, and Lincoln as well as just across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, IA, before finally ending their journeys in Omaha.

Berthajean loved teaching and spent the majority of her life teaching in a variety of schools including Anceny Rural School in Montana and St Mary’s and Pius X High Schools in Lincoln. 

She loved her gardens and could often be found beautifying her flower beds. Berthajean also loved music. She could play the piano well and wanted to learn to play stringed instruments. 

She often sang to and with her children, and especially loved the songs of the 1940s and 1950s, but one of her favorite songs was “She’ll be coming ’round the Mountain.” Hi Babe!

Berthajean loved spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She loved birthdays, celebrations, parades, and attended them all with and for her family. 

Grandma BJ had many adventures with her grandchildren. Even in her later years, she loved seeing photos of them and smiled in recognition of her grands.

Berthajean was a special mom, grandma, great-grandma, and great-great-grandma. She loved to play; she could be found winding up all the music boxes in the store. 

She loved to read and would read everything in sight. She would often read the script on T-shirts and ask the wearer what it meant. She loved to read and write poetry as well. Much to her children’s delight she wrote and told several children’s stories. Our favorites were the Goody stories and the Topsy stories.

Berthajean had a sweet tooth and enjoyed eating ice cream, cookies, sweet cereal, mini marshmallows, chocolate, watermelon, strawberries (with sugar), cake, etc. She also enjoyed pizza.

Berthajean was preceded in death by her parents Joe and Mabel Baldauf; husband Theodore Parker Johnson; brothers Boyd and Dan Baldauf; sisters Lavon Schwarting and Marjorie Williams; daughter Martha Jean; son Theodore August Johnson.

Survivors cherishing her memory include her children Erik Johnson (Cathy) of Lincoln; Kathryn Johnson Nokes (Paul) of Manhattan, MT; Annmarie Johnson Schultz (Ken) and Mary Jo Johnson Mollner (Bob) both of Omaha; Gary Johnson (Vickie) Pullman of WA; and grandchildren William, Wendy, Kerri, Josh, Katie, Randy, Scott, Kristin, Abra, Elanni, Jerry, Jason, Cassandra.

Also surviving are her are great-grandchildren Madison, Aydan, Jamie, Jordan, Jeremy, Jordan, Tyler, Parker, Roberta, Anastasia, Kortney, Autumn, Corbin, Sutherland, Weston, Zealand, Preston, Kaiden, Liam, Kenzie, Jackson, Chance and Justice; great-great-grandchildren Amelia, Adelaide, and Guinevere; sisters Josemay “Jo” Anderson (Don), and Mabelmarie “Marie”Datus (Gary); many nieces and nephews; and numerous other relatives and friends (especially Audrey).

Berthajean had several sayings she would often be heard repeating to her children and grandchildren. She reminded us all, very often, “you have a choice to be kind” and “even if you don’t enjoy the company of a certain person, you can be polite” and “that’s enough.”

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