Margaret Irene Johnson

Margaret Irene Johnson, 105, died Feb. 23, 2011, in her home. Margaret, the youngest of four daughters, was born at home in Fortville, Ind., on Oct. 8, 1905, to Ada R. and John F. Johnson.

After graduating from Fortville High School in 1923, Margaret went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from De Pauw University in 1927 and a Masters degree from Northwestern University. She attended Anderson Business College and also holds Diplomas from Bryant and Stratton College and Gregg College of Chicago.

Margaret taught briefly at Fortville High School and McCordsville High School before taking a position in 1933 at Sullins College-a private, liberal arts college for women in Bristol, Virginia. Her list of accomplishments at Sullins College is long. She initially headed up the secretarial/business department. She also served as secretary for the faculty. Her experience and involvement promoted her in 1954 to Dean of Women, a position she would hold until her retirement in 1970. The school’s 1967 yearbook states that Dean Johnson was also advising the President’s Council and the Judicial Council at the college and that “her fairness, democratic leadership, and high ideals set a standard for Sullins students.”

Though she never married or had children of her own, Margaret has devoted decades to helping others improve their education and lives. After returning to Fortville, she cared for her aged parents. She was involved as a member of the Fortville United Methodist Church, Delta Zeta Sorority, and was a 50+ year member of the Psi Iota Xi Sorority. On her 100th birthday, her family established the Margaret Johnson Honorary Scholarship Endowment Fund through the Hancock County Community Foundation. The scholarship is to be given yearly to a female graduate of Mt. Vernon High School. Margaret is survived by her large loving family which includes nieces, Elizabeth Rhodes Smith (Dr. John) of Greenfield and Patricia Rhodes Sloan of South Bend; niece-in-law, Carol Deakyne of Greenfield; and nephew-in-law, Robert Buis of Indianapolis. She is also survived by 98 great, great-great, and great-great-great nieces and nephews.

Her parents and sisters, Valeria Rhodes, Bess Baldwin, and Jane Deakyne preceded her in death.

Visitation will take place from 4 until 8 p.m. on Friday, March 4, 2011, at Erlewein Mortuary in Fortville. Funeral services will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 5, 2011, at the Fortville United Methodist Church. Burial will take place at Gravel Lawn Cemetery in Fortville.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Fortville UMC, or to the Margaret Johnson Honorary Scholarship Endowment Fund at the Hancock County Community Foundation. Friends may sign the online guestbook at or email condolences to