It is with the greatest sadness that the Johnson family announces the passing of Ruth Shirley Johnson on October 12, in Halifax, NS, at the age of 101. Born on September 7, 1921, Shirley Johnson (nee Lavers) was raised in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Her father was David Lavers, proprietor of D.A. Lavers General Merchant in Parrsboro and her mother was Nell McLaughlin, a school teacher from Economy. Shirley’s family had McLaughlin and Lavers relatives throughout Cumberland and Colchester Counties.
She graduated from Acadia University with a degree in Home Economics in 1943, at the height of World War 2. She immediately put her studies to good use as a dietician in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC), and it was during the war that she met the love of her life, a young pilot named Robert (Bob) Johnson, while stationed at Camp Debert, NS. They were married in 1946 in Bob’s hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and remained a united and devoted couple until Bob’s passing in 2014. Together, they raised four sons and one daughter.
Perhaps due as much to her family heritage as her Home Economics degree, Shirley’s love for her family was constantly demonstrated through the preparation of delicious meals and treats for them. So much love flowed from her in the making of comfort food and the breaking of bread together around a good table.
In addition to her family life, when conditions permitted, Shirley also enjoyed an accomplished career. The first instance was in the RCAMC during the war, before she was married. Secondly, she was the Post-Master for the Waverley Post Office (NS) for six years. During this time she also co-authored the first history of Waverley, entitled “This Is Waverley”. Ultimately, she became a social worker for Halton County Children’s Aid Society in Burlington, Ontario, primarily working in adoptions and then some years later with Prince Edward Island Social Services in the field of child protection and family support. In the years following her time with PEI Social Services, she was often visited by former clients who became friends, thanking her for the profound impact her compassion and caring service had on their lives.
Shirley always contributed greatly to her community. After she and Bob settled in Charlottetown, PEI, in 1977, they both became active members of Spring Park United Church. In addition, Shirley was a vital member of Spring Park United Church UCW (a past-president), RCAFA, the Canadian Nursing Sisters, IODE, the DeHavilland Club, Gyros, Probus and the Royal Canadian Legion, who named her honorary President for a one year term. Shirley was also past president of the Gordon Cove Cottage Association, at Chelton Beach, PEI, where she and Bob had built their little dream cottage in 1980 and spent many happy times.
Shirley was predeceased by her devoted husband of 68 years, Robert, by her brother Dr. Harlan Lavers (the late Adelaide McKean), and by many well loved cousins. She leaves behind her five children, David (Mary Ann Pacey), Robert (Linda Getchell), Peter (Lyne Montsion), Harlan (Marco Rainville) and Elaine (Brad Murray), eight grandchildren, Eliot (Stacey), George (Emily), Veronica (Dan), Nathaniel (Madison), Robert III, Heather (Marcel), Cameron (Kate), Katie (Matt), and eight great grandchildren, Isla, Maxwell, Josephine, Alfred, Zoya, Dalvay, Hunter and Macey, as well as several nieces and nephews. She was particularly close to her niece Linda (Lavers) Erikson. Shirley will live on in our hearts and memories.
The family would like to express their gratitude to the staff of Andrew’s of Stratford, PEI, and Camphill Veterans Hospital, Halifax, NS, for the excellent care she received from them.
A memorial service will be held at Belvedere Funeral Home in Charlottetown on November 11 at 3 pm. Visitation from 2-3. Please join us in celebrating the life of Shirley Lavers Johnson, a loving wife, mother and a proud WW2 veteran.
Shirley was ever a devoted daughter of Nova Scotia and her hometown. For those who wish to do so, a donation in her memory can be made to the Ottawa House-Parrsboro Shore Historical Society.