April 28, 1940 - November 30, 2020
Shirley Ellen Johnson was born on April 28, 1940 in London, England and entered into eternal rest on November 30, 2020 in Anaheim, California at the age of 80. Just a few weeks ago, lamenting the death of her Downey friend Rosalie Sciortino, Shirley Johnson said to me, “I wonder how fully we can prepare for the death of someone who has been one of the main branches of our family tree. "Lorine, why is it,” she said, “we learn more about people and friends after they leave us?” Now ironically, we get to learn more about Shirley. Shirley was a 30-year member of the Rotary Club of Downey, one of the first women to be invited to join the club. “The most important to me are always the children,” she said. “So many go without the basics. I believe all children should be treated with honesty, humor as is appropriate, and respect. I was raised in England in a very strict way with those values. We must all help to keep the world turning and that means helping where and when we can.” Shirley loved Downey and the people of Downey and loved to help serve them in any way she could. These were the values that made Shirley and Rotary so compatible. She could be strict, and brutally honest, but she had a big generous heart. Born in England, Shirley was Hertfordshire to the bone. “It was very rural, ”she said, “no paved sidewalks, sheep and cows grazing and completely surrounded by thick woods, wild blackberries we picked in season and crab apples that we would eat on the way home from school as a snack. Very sour,” said Shirley. Shirley originally intended to emigrate to New Zealand but she stopped in Los Angeles along the way, and fell in love with our climate. She opened her travel agency, Best Travel, in Downey in 1977, and she often led trips she designed herself. “We try to stay away from the canned tour,” she said, “dining in small coaching inns or the well known watering holes such as ‘The Pub,’ best food in the world.” Shirley branched into a personalized airport taxi service that in later years became a much-needed personal van service to take the elderly to their medical appointments. To shake hands with Shirley was to feel like you were the handle of a suitcase she had picked off the baggage carrousel. She had a firm handshake and you knew you would never be lost luggage. Lately Shirley organized an informal Lunch Club for as many as 30 people who tried out whatever new restaurants Shirley suggested “I don’t have any agenda,” said Shirley. “I just invite people to come. Originally I started this for the Women’s Guild of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. But then I invited clients from my travel agency, and they asked friends.” I asked around our table how people knew Shirley, and they smiled as they searched for their reply. Answers ranged from, “I used her taxi service to the airport in the 80’s,” to “I met her when we had the Red Cross Blood Mobile at the church. When she came in to donate, she just bled and bled all over. That’s when we became friends.” Shirley could be big hearted and brutally honest. Besides raising money for abused children, Shirley cared about rescuing animals. She was passionate about the Downey Symphony and was a great supporter of Sharon Lavery from the day Sharon was chosen to be the new Music Director, 12 years ago. Shirley never missed a concert if she didn’t have a client to drive. Shirley was proud of being a cancer survivor for over twenty years, and she always advised people to have check-ups. Although she was an intensely private person, she had confided to me a few weeks ago, “I am having surgery on my neck & back. The back part is to correct something done ages ago that apparently never healed properly. This might be a big operation, and 2 weeks minimum to recuperate. There goes my Thanksgiving business. Again, I don’t want this advertised throughout.” “When I leave,” Shirley liked to say, “I shall be cremated, as Muffin was (she's in my China cabinet), and both of us shall cross the ‘pond’ landing back in Hertfordshire in the family plot with my sister and three Daffodil bulbs to show the world each Spring, WE'RE BACK!” Condolences for the Family may be sent through our website. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, please contact the family for service information.
Shirley Ellen Johnson was born on April 28, 1940 in London, England and entered into eternal rest on November 30, 2020 in Anaheim, California at the age of 80. Just a few weeks ago, lamenting the death of her Downey friend Rosalie Sciortino,... View Obituary & Service Information
Obituary & Service
Shirley Ellen Johnson was born on April 28, 1940 in London, England...View More
Flowers & Gifts
Send flowers to the JOHNSON family.Send Flowers