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Obituary of Lula Packham Marschat Johnston 1905-2003

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Obituary of Lula Packham Marschat Johnston 1905-2003

Posted: 1045622623000
Classification: Obituary
Edited: 1164248218000
I ran across this nice obit in today's (18 Feb 2003) "Oregonian"so thought I'd post it.


Lula Johnston made the news when she married at 95; friends say she lived her entire life to the fullest.

by Melissa L. Jones

Lula Johnston remembered the covered wagon ride she and her family took from Utah to Idaho's Camas Prairie. The 97-year-old remembered to send a card on her 105-year-old friend's birthday. And when an old college sweetheart called 70 years after they first met, she remembered him.

But Johnston, who died Sunday night, won't be remembered for her good memory.

It will be for the way she relished life, relatives said.

At age 95, Lula Marschat and Paul Johnston made national news for their romance. They were college sweethearts in 1923 in Idaho. But after college at Albion State Normal School, they took teaching jobs in towns 150 miles apart. They married others and went on with their lives. Lula and Laurence Marschat raised three children.

Generations later, after both their spouses died, Lula and Paul reconnected and married in 2000. Just weeks after their wedding, the couple were driving on Oregon 99E on their way to pick peaches for a friend when their vehicle was hit by an oncoming car. Paul Johnston died two months later.

Lula Johnston was paralyzed from the waist down but "even that didn't slow her down," said Joan Boozer of Falls City, a friend and niece. "Even with the accident, she didn't withdraw like a lot of severely injured people do. She was a person who could take life's blows and deflect the energy so it didn't scar her. She was active and interested in about everything."

Politics, family, the neighbors.

When she moved to a new residence, she told her family she wanted to meet the neighbors.

"She said, 'You just give me a couple of weeks, and I'll ge to know them all,'" Boozer said. "She went and knocked on doors."

Johnston was born Lula Packham on Aug. 10, 1905, in Pleasantville, Utah. She worked as a first and second-grade teacher and was active with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She volunteered with the League of Women Voters and drove until she was 94.

Johnston suffered a stroke Dec. 6 and had been ill since, Boozer said. But she was still thinking of others.

Boozer was visiting her aunt every day, but her aunt was worried she was spending too much time away from her job; Johnston suggested she write Boozer's supervisor a card.

In January, she asked Boozer to get some birthday and friendship cards. She spoke as Boozer wrote the messages.

"She would write these thank you notes and say 'I love you,'" Boozer said. "She said, 'You know I love a lot of people.'"

She had so many friends at her Woodburn church, her family tried to limit her conversations with friends to five minutes in order to fit everyone in.

Johnston received mail from all over the world after her story made headlines. She had maintained a steady stream of pen pals since.

"On a religious standpoint, she was desirous that people would be considerate of one another and try to treat each other as the savior would," said her brother, Willis Packham of Woodburn.

Johnston is survived by her daughter, Marilyn Rhodes; son, Gerald Marschat; sisters, Thelma Madora, Dora Lee, Emily Williams, Geneva Eskridge and Myrl Pond; brothers, Charles Packham, Earl Packham, LeRoy Packham, Don Packham, Nolan Packham and Willis Packham; and one granddaughter. Her son Laurence Marschat died in 2001.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Woodburn Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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