Mavis Audrey Johnson Wiggert

(Mavis Johnson was the daughter of Lillie and Herbert Johnson and a great granddaughter of Johan and Johanna Persson.  She died on December 13, 2001.  This remembrance and tribute was written in January 2002 by her sister, Lorraine Johnson Sapp.)

A true lady, Mavis was born on April 11, 1925 in Nora (Alcester), South Dakota.  As the eldest child of Lillie and Herbert Johnson, Mavis was a true friend and mentor to friends and family.

                 Mavis attended schools in South Dakota, and this was finalized with a specialized secretarial college in Sioux Falls.  For some years Mavis lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in ’60 or ’61 she gave in to something of an adventurous nature when she took off with Dagne, a girlfriend, on a six month jaunt around Europe.  They crossed the Atlantic by boat and lived very frugally by staying in pensiones, finding their way about by train and bus, but exploring many countries.  At that time Mavis did have a few very limited contacts with some distant Swedish relatives.  Apparently Dagne had some from her family that were more solid contacts.

                 At this time we lived in the Minneapolis area and were ecstatic about keeping her Magnavox TV while she was gone.  It was the first time that we had a TV in our home.  On her return to the States our Mom and Dad picked her up in New York City.  Our mother made many comments about her (Mavis’) few well worn clothes, and decided that her old coat absolutely had to be trashed.  Mavis always delighted in that incident since Mavis could only be stamped as fastidious.

                 From ’58 through ’61 Mavis found herself as “the” aunt and playmate to our Dawn and Brad, and to Will’s Debbie and Becky.  At any sort of gathering in Minneapolis, the kids had her captured to play.  Several years later when she visited us in Wisconsin, our Brad insisted on dragging her down the “Mc Goon” – but this lagoon was no more than a dirty little swamp.

                 Altogether Mavis had eleven nieces and nephews who always appreciated her attention.  They all so vividly recall that she never missed their birthdays; in this way Mavis lived her Christianity in a true, soft spoken way that exuded love.

                 And—Mavis did find a love of her own when she was introduced to Robert Wiggert.  Through a business contact with Allis Chalmers, she was introduced to Bob, and after they were married on August 5th, 1967, they lived in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, for about two years.  Their wedding took place in the big downtown Mpls. Covenant Church where Mavis was a member, and where she had also been one of the choir members.

                 I do remember flying out from California for this momentous occasion—and leaving my husband at home to handle four young children!  It was a very lovely wedding, and even though Mavis was 43 years old, she had a very youthful presence.  Her classy good taste was well exhibited in the simple lines of her street length ivory dress—but then again with her good figure anything looked good on her!  Aunt Anne and Frank from Chicago were there, and also Uncle Ralph and Emy Lou from New York.  I also recall Aunt Ethel and family in the gathering, plus my Dad’s sisters and brothers.  Yes, this was a big event and a happy one.

                 In about 1970 Allis Chalmers closed their plant in La Crosse, so at that time Mavis and Bob moved to the Washington D.C. area where both were employed by the Interstate Commerce Commission.  They had a delightful home in Alexandria, Virginia, and Mavis would speak of being in the center of things living there in the Capital environment.  Mavis was quick to take a day off, in 1978, when Darrell and I plus some of his 8th grade class from California, flew out there to see our center of government.  The kids were so impressed to have some one along who actually lived out there around D.C.

                 At retirement time, 1987, the Wiggerts returned to La Crosse, Wisconsin.  They were then free to do a fair amount of traveling.  We had some memorable gatherings with one of her favorites being a trip that the Wiggerts took to Cayey, Puerto Rico, to visit Will and Carmen.  One of my fond ones was showing them a bit of the “real” Texas—or the time in Wisconsin when we visited the Amish country.

                 Last Spring Mavis’ strength was waning, but she too was exuberant in learning of the birth of Kendra, our latest grand child whose parents are Doug and Kendall.

                 For some years Mavis fought a battle against leukemia.  I just found a note of mine that was dated 6/10/93, and said that Mavis’ white blood count was way up, and that she was to have very mild chemo treatment.  The CLL went on to be in various stages of remission, and then treatment again.  As a patient she was a non-complainer, and very determined.  We had wished to have her join us out in San Francisco this past Fall, but when we were out to see her on Sept. 29th, we began to scheme for the “Three Sisters” gathering there in Lacrosse for December 15th.  Sis---you almost made it.

                 On December 13th we said our final good byes to Mavis.  Bob was there, Sister Gladys and Warren Giere from Sioux Falls, brother Will from Puerto Rico, and myself and Charlie from San Antonio, Texas.

                 Funeral services were held on December 17th, 2001, at the Asbury Methodist Church in La Crosse.  Along with immediate family being there we had Joy Lynne Jenner (Gladys’ daughter) come on Sunday, and for services Dave and Nancy Giere (Gladys’ son) were there.  Bob’s daughter from Kenosha, Judi Daley, also was there for services.

                 My four devoted and exasperatingly determined children, two on the East Coast region and two on the West Coast region, all announced that they would come to La Crosse for Aunt Mavis’ service.  Our resolve to this was to have a “Tribute to Aunt Mavis” at our house on December 23rd, as they all arrived here in San
Antonio for a Christmas week in Texas---and a time that afternoon to reflect, and to share anecdotes.

                 To my little “Big Sister”------I’ll always miss you----