The Passing of a Dear Friend

June 14, 2018

I am deeply saddened to learn this morning (Wednesday) of the overnight passing of my dear friend Jane Johnson Hall. There was absolutely no one better to go digging into the past with than Jane. She was a pro, dedicated to finding answers, and she was very good at it. Her dedication led her to read the bulk of the Marion Press archives, much of it in the difficult microfiche form, seeking any and all information on her Marion families.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Jane Johnson Hall’s Marion pedigree is substantial. She and her siblings are the grandchildren of Marion’s earliest doctor, Donald Johnson. Her husband, the late Garth Hall, is a descendant of pioneer Isaac Hall. She found plenty to read in those old papers.

I often called upon Jane to see what she knew about certain people or past events around town. It was she who gave me a personal and humanizing (for lack of a better word) look at Ava Hoard Johnson, who taught business skills and typing at MHS for more than 25 years. She is still remembered by many who were in her classes. It was Jane who told me about the marriage between her dear Uncle Gib and the teacher Ava Hoard. The couple, who had no children, was married for more than 30 years and was deeply devoted to one another. This was certainly something hundreds of her students would never have imagined. Gib built their home in what had been his mother’s garden, next to his parents on Pickard Street. He and Ava were married in the living room and she would die there of a cancer no one, especially her husband, could bear to tell her she had. I will always be indebted to Jane for her very personal words about Ava Johnson. It is never too late to see someone in a different light.

She spent the past few years happily scanning her many old photographs and saving them to her computer. This was a task she quite enjoyed. Through our too short friendship she sent along many photographic gems, some just because she thought them interesting, others to see what I might know. I was truly the blessed one here, but am happy to say that I was able to help solve a mystery or two for her as well.

This very early photo, used in the Marion, Michigan; A Pictorial History 1890-1950 book, is of Dr. Donald Johnson, off to make a house call in his cutter. This was taken on the snowy Main Street of Marion when she was a very young girl. It is a personal favorite, sent along by the good doctor›s granddaughter, Jane.

This very early photo, used in the Marion, Michigan; A Pictorial History 1890-1950 book, is of Dr. Donald Johnson, off to make a house call in his cutter. This was taken on the snowy Main Street of Marion when she was a very young girl. It is a personal favorite, sent along by the good doctor›s granddaughter, Jane.

It was my real photo postcard of William Hall, his wife Mary and a horse, taken at Marion, which brought us together more than 15 years ago. Jane was happy to share her information and photographs and I, likewise with what I found. Without her help I couldn’t have found what I did to share with her; genealogy and history working together at its best.

Just this week I thought of Jane and her wonderful stories of how she and her siblings were able to take the train from Cadillac, where they lived as children, and travel to Marion to spend time with their grandparents. It was a big deal to them. They were always met at the depot by their Uncle Gib, often accompanied by their grandmother. I could hear the smile on her face as she told those tales.

Today I am going to frame a small treasure she sent via snail mail a while back. Last year Jane rescued a paper sack of ancient cancelled checks from Dr. Johnson’s attic; truly an example of one man’s trash being another’s treasure as well as something which waited for her to discover. The checks were dated during 1903. Among them was a check written by the good doctor to my personal favorite historical Marion person, C.T. Sadler, editor and publisher of the Marion Press. He was the man who recorded and kept our history for so long. He was probably “one of us”, genealogically speaking.

It is the perfect reminder of my sweet friend. I am sure she is already busily meeting all those ancestors who went before. RIP Jane.




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