Nancy Lewis Johnson
1925 - 1998
"I am where I wish to be"
the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."
-An Irish Blessing
Lewis Johnson, known as Tracy, died suddenly en route to Antarctica
aboard ship in the South Atlantic. Though she was so far away
from family and friends at the time of her death, we all understood
the absolute perfection of such a passing. A lover of world travel,
sparked by an unquenchable curiosity, she and her late husband,
Dick, had visited countries on six continents. She rode elephants
in North Thailand, circled Mount Everest in a plane, and even
traveled to the North Pole. She had read Huckleberry Finn out
loud in English in a Beijing Park, had her anti-diarrhea pills
stolen from her hut by baboons in Kenya, and showed courage when
her husband suffered a heart attack at the summit of Machu Picchu.
Only Antarctica remained unexplored.
Born on April 23, 1925 in Philadelphia to Wynne Rettger and Harmon
Lewis, Tracy was raised in Westchester County, New York. During
her childhood, her father, the president of the Alcoa Steamship
Company, took her on trips to South America and the Caribbean.
In her teens, she christened a ship in San Francisco. In 1946
she graduated as valedictorian from the University of Wisconsin,
an honor her mother had also shared, and soon married J. Richard
Johnson, M.D., a specialist in chest disease. After living through
Dick's nearly four-year bout with tuberculosis, they settled in
the Shorewood Hills neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin from 1957
until 1966, when they moved to Minneapolis.
Throughout her life, she marveled at the complexity of the world,
sought to know all she could about both current events and history
of the places she visited, and always maintained an open mind
and heart. Wherever she went, and even at home, she insisted on
a View; to her, the View was perspective, and insight - both of
which she had aplenty.
She is survived by a brother, Harmon; a sister, Read; three sons
and their spouses: David, a clinical psychologist in New Haven,
Connecticut; Rick, a professor of medicine in Houston, Texas;
and Todd, chief financial officer of a medical device company
in Minneapolis; six grandchildren, and numerous friends, each
of whom will miss her wit, grace, and loving kindness.
Tracy's love of adventure expressed itself in a desire to travel
to outer space, and even once to the proposal to have her ashes
sent up in a Fourth of July fireworks display. The Celestis journey
will be the culminating event in her long life of travel, and
we know that from up there, as she looks down upon the earth in
all its glory, she will marvel at the View.
The Family and Friends of Nancy Lewis Johnson
Sing me a song
A canticle of life,
For I am leaving land
And taking space to wife.
Into the rising wind
I'll shout the ecstasy.
Echoes will answer back,
I am where I wish to be.
- Wynne Rettger Lewis