Mabel was born August 10, 1917 to James M. and Gertrude Nelson near Sidney, Nebraska. When she was eleven years old, her father, the county sheriff, was shot and killed. This tragedy instilled a fortitude in her that would see her through the hard times that she would face.
On December 3, 1935, Mabel married her best friend, Glenn R. Johnson. They lived in Wray, Colorado until World War II and Glenn joined the Navy, leaving Mabel to take care of their five children. She moved back to Sidney to be nearer to family. Shortly after the war, they moved to Emmett, Idaho, where Glenn worked as a meat cutter and settled on a forty-acre dairy farm. When poor health forced Glenn to stop working, Mabel got a nursing degree and began to work at Walter Knox Hospital as an LPN. She was a favorite nurse, especially known for her back rubs. She continued working there until her retirement.
Glenn passed away in October of 1974 and Mabel continued to live on the farm she and Glenn worked so hard to obtain. Although she had to sell most of the land, with the help of family she was able to remain in her home until her death.
Mabel was a gifted musician, vocalist and artist. She started playing the cello in the seventh grade and studied under a professor from the University in Lincoln, Nebraska during the summers. Mabel also loved to play the piano and organ, especially the old hymns. She played for several years for the United Methodist Church in Emmett, where she was a member. She also enjoyed playing ragtime, classics from film and stage and Christmas carols at the family gatherings.
As a talented artist, Mabel also enjoyed oil painting. She was particularly fond of painting wildlife and her walls were filled with paintings of geese, ducks, deer, bears, rabbits and squirrels. She also knitted, crocheted and sewed; and she passed on these skills to her children and grandchildren, teaching them the piano, painting, crocheting and sewing. She made hundreds of dolls, giving them to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also gave many to hospitals' children wards and her church's ministry to underprivileged children.
Mabel reared nine children: twins, Don and Ron Johnson; Robert Johnson; Dennis Johnson; Maren Green; Gary Johnson; Becky Baucke; Carol Grubb; Christy Mabee. She also had twenty-six grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
She is survived by a sister, Ada; sons: Robert and Gary; daughters: Maren, Becky, Carol and Christy; twenty-five grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and nephews and nieces.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Glenn; sons: Ron, Don, and Dennis; and granddaughter, Evethelyn (Eve) Hendersen.
Graveside services will be held at the Emmett Cemetery Friday, March 15, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. Viewing will take place before the graveside from 12 – 2:15 p.m. at the Potter Funeral Chapel in Emmett.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Emmett Valley Friendship Coalition; PO Box 546, Emmett, Idaho 83617.