Jeanette Mecham Johnson finished her mission here on earth and peacefully returned to her Heavenly Father on Saturday January 13, 2024, from her home in North Ogden, Utah.
Jeanette was born on April 6, 1935, the middle child and only daughter of LeRoy Keetch and Ethel Warnick Mecham, in Hiawatha, Utah. After her older brother Paul was born, her parents were told that they probably wouldn’t have any more children, so they were delighted to find out that Jeanette was on the way. She was adored by her parents from then on.
Jeanette attended school in Hiawatha until the third grade and loved it. She also took piano lessons and dance lessons. She remembered that she and her friend Valynn Anderson wanted to try to crack apricot pits by lining them up across the road and waiting for cars to drive over them. This turned out to be unsatisfactory since the nuts inside were too crushed to eat. So, they went back to cracking the pits with a rock.
When her younger brother Dick joined the family, Jeanette wasn’t too impressed. She stood by her mother’s bed, sucked her thumb, and cried until her grandmother got there to take care of her mother. Then she was all right.
When Jeanette was nine years old her parents moved to American Fork, Utah. She was worried about living in a new place. Fortunately, they moved next to the Clarence A Grant Family. This started her friendship and love for her dearest friend Joleen Grant.
Jeanette loved her school days in American Fork. She was the secretary of her Sophomore class, Student Body Secretary when she was a Junior, and a cheerleader and co-editor of her school paper when she was a Senior. She accompanied some school musical groups and sang with others. She could type 50 words a minute at the end of her Junior year and could write 90 words a minute in shorthand when she was a Senior. She graduated from LDS Seminary in 1952 and American Fork High School in 1953. During her Junior and Senior years in High School Jeanette worked at Thornton Drug Store in American Fork where she honed her soda fountain skills.
When Jeanette was a Sophomore, she met Blaine W. Johnson. She thought he seemed very mature and sophisticated because he was so much older than she was (two years.) But the thing she liked most about him was his sense of humor. He presented her with a diamond on her high school graduation night, but they didn’t actually become engaged until later since Blaine had orders to report to the Army.
The summer after high school Jeanette worked as a bookkeeper and receptionist for State Electronics—a television store. That school year she attended Brigham Young University and lived in Provo, Utah with her friends. She finished her first university year then started working as a stenographer at the Alpine School District where she eventually became a secretary to the Superintendent of Schools, Alma P. Burton. He was in the process of writing a book which Jeanette typed for him.
On Friday July 22, 1955, Jeanette married Blaine W. Johnson in the Manti Temple. Looking at wedding pictures 53 years later she wrote this:
“A couple of things struck me-How young we look. We were young- I was 20 and Dad had just turned 22 (but I didn’t think we were young at the time.) Dad had served two years in the Army so he seemed very mature. The other thing I noticed was—I think we were good looking. I really didn’t realize it at the time. This came as a nice surprise. (You’re welcome to agree with me---remember the will.)”
Marriage to Blaine opened a new chapter in Jeanette’s life. The biggest change for the girl from Utah was that after Blaine’s college graduation she would not live in Utah again until after retirement. Her address changed as Blaine pursued his career. Moves to Chesterfield, Indiana; Dallas, Texas; Anderson, Indiana; Decatur, Georgia; and Homestead, Florida all meant new cities to navigate, new homes to create and new people to meet and love. So many people to love. Jeanette made dear friends everywhere she lived.
All the time Blaine was building his career, Jeanette was pursuing hers: mothering the children and grandchildren who joined their family as the list of places they lived piled up. Along with setting up a new home every few years, she cooked endlessly for her family, kept a remarkably clean house, sewed and crocheted, did tons of laundry—including ironing, served in her church callings and made her children do homework, chores, and help bottle peaches, green beans and strawberry jam. She planned parties for her kids’ elementary school classes, worked in PTA, read to her children and took them to the library and to church. She popped popcorn, made chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles, baked homemade bread and cinnamon rolls, and fed everyone who came over, just like her mother did before her. Her family never had to wonder if there would be dinner at dinner time. There always was.
Not only did Jeanette nurture her own children and grandchildren but she opened her heart and her home to many others: her children’s friends, missionaries far from home, servicemen serving at the Homestead Airforce Base, ward members who didn’t have family nearby for holidays, and dozens displaced after Hurricane Andrew. For a time while Blaine was the Stake President, she provided meals and lodging for visiting General Authorities. She enjoyed getting to know these great men but enjoyed feeding them even more.
Jeanette was a lifelong, faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She always loved attending Primary and Mutual. She was an Honor Bee and a Silver Gleaner. From the time of her first calling as a Nursery teacher in 1952 until her most recent calling as Primary pianist in her North Ogden Ward, Jeanette always worked to excel in whatever she was called to do.
When serving as Relief Society President, which she did more than once, she focused on compassionate service ensuring that everyone felt loved, regardless of their story. She taught homemaking skills to the inexperienced and spearheaded the creation of The Homestead Ward cookbook that her children and grandchildren still use. She was continuingly expanding her homemaking knowledge. She learned to make “wheat meat” long before it was trendy. She owned a wheat grinder even though her family loved white bread, a Coleman stove even though she didn’t camp and plenty of food storage that she hoped never to use, but she had “just in case.”
As Stake Young Women’s President, she dreaded camp every year. But every year it became a high point for her, even the year she capsized the canoe. She loved the Young Women and their leaders, and they loved her right back. She taught the Young Women the importance of the Temple and spoke often about the importance of making and keeping covenants with Heavenly Father. It’s no surprise that years later she would be a temple worker, assistant to the Matron and then the Matron of the Orlando Florida Temple.
Jeanette’s childhood piano lessons served her well. She became the go-to accompanist (and sometimes the only accompanist) in the branches and wards she lived in. Jeanette expanded her musical skills and learned to play the organ. She was never entirely comfortable in her organist callings, but she practiced…and practiced until she was the go-to organist (and sometimes the only organist) in the wards she lived in.
Her family and her church were the most important things in life to Jeanette and she proved this to her children and grandchildren by the way she lived every day.
Jeanette is survived by her husband, Blaine W. Johnson; her children, Victor M. Johnson, Jana and Mitch Dettamanti, Lee Blaine and Denise Johnson, Julie Corbin, Eric David and Cherie Johnson, and last, the best, the bonus Golden Child, Jennifer and Adam Hunsaker. She is also survived by 22 grandchildren who actually total 35 counting their spouses and 20 great-grandchildren. She leaves behind her baby brother, Richard Mecham and his wife, Linda. She was preceded in death by her parents; her big brother, Paul Meacham and his wife, Norma; and her infant son.
Graveside services will be held on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 11 a.m. at the Ben Lomond Cemetery, North Ogden. Friends may visit with family on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lindquist’s North Ogden Mortuary, 2140 N. Washington Blvd.