San Fernando Mission Cemeteries and Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary
11160 Stranwood Ave
Mission Hills, CA
November 12, 1922 - April 26, 2021 Lelia Elizabeth Johnson passed into the arms of her heavenly savior Jesus Christ, on April 26, 2021. Lelia was born on November 12, 1922 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She lived a full life dominated by faith, love of family and life long learning. In 1927, she and her family moved to France. She became fluent in French and had to relearn English when she returned to the United States. In her teen years, she moved with her family to Los Angeles and was one of the first African American graduates from Dorsey High School. In 1949, she married Rupert "Rip" Johnson, one of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. Lelia took on the duties of an officer's wife. As her family was one of the first black families to integrate west coast military base housing and local schools, it's fair to say she lived the Civil Rights Movement. In a rare opportunity, she took her three sons to meet and shake hands with Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the great leaders of the 20th century. In her mid 40's she began taking college courses for credit and eventually earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in French from California State University, Northridge. She went on to serve in the Peace Corps in Dakar Senegal teaching English as a second language. She was also a Catholic Missionary in American Samoa. She received her teaching credential in 1985 and worked for many years as a grade school teacher and CCD instructor at Guardian Angel Catholic School. Lelia was predeceased by her beloved husband, Lt. Colonel Rupert "Rip" Johnson. She is survived by her three sons, Wesley Cotton (wife – Mimi), Lynn Bernard Johnson (wife – Christine), and Roderick Johnson (wife – Mary). She is also survived by over 60 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren as well as nieces, nephews, and extended family members, all of whom she loved dearly Funeral services will be held Friday, June 18, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. at Mission Hills Mortuary. Lelia always lived with a grateful and prayerful heart. In memory of her please pray for one another and live a life full of faith and love.
Published by Los Angeles Times from Jun. 15 to Jun. 18, 2021.