Cecelia E. Johnson, 88, teacher who raised chrysanthemums

July 28, 2006

Cecelia E. Johnson, a retired Baltimore educator and award-winning grower of chrysanthemums, died of cancer July 21 at her Columbia home. She was 88.

Cecelia Ernestine Brown, who was known as Ernestine and Teenie, was born and raised on her family's farm in Surry, Va., one of 10 children.

She earned a teaching certificate in 1939 from St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Va., and began teaching elementary students in Isle of Wight County, Va.

In the late 1940s, she moved to Washington and worked for the U.S. Treasury Department, supervising the data entry staff.

In 1966, she moved to Baltimore, and two years later began teaching at the old Louisa M. Alcott Elementary School. She was on the faculty of nearby Malcolm X. Elementary School from 1970 to 1976, then taught at John Eager Howard Elementary School until retiring in 1981.

While attending summer school at Hampton Institute in 1941, she met her future husband, Everett Bertram Johnson, whom she married in 1948. He is a retired Baltimore public schools vocational education specialist.

After her daughters entered junior high school, Mrs. Johnson returned to college and earned her bachelor's degree from what is now Morgan State University in 1972.

"Ernestine loved to tell stories about her past and colorful details about people she had met throughout her life. She was also quite spirited and opinionated," said a daughter, Edna J. Ragins of Greensboro, N.C.

In addition to traveling, she and her husband enjoyed growing chrysanthemums and were members of the Chesapeake Chrysanthemum Society and Potomac Chrysanthemum Society. She was also an avid bridge player.

A former Govans resident, Mrs. Johnson had lived since 1972 in Columbia, where she was an active parishioner, Altar Guild member and Sunday school teacher at Christ Episcopal Church. Her funeral service was held there Wednesday.

Also surviving are two other daughters, Elaine B. Johnson of Columbia and Everene Johnson-Turner of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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