Remembering Kathleen Johnson - June 28, 1941 to February 27, 2008
The Addison County Community was stunned to learn Wednesday morning February 27, 2008 that one of the area’s most popular and well liked personalities had passed away during the night at home in her sleep.
Kathleen Johnson was a gifted professional who was often called upon to give astrological readings to the rich and famous and ordinary folks alike. Her column Starwise was the longest running feature in the 34 year history of the Valley Voice.
Voice Owner/Publisher, Cheryl White was a close, personal friend of Kathleen. Cheryl said “I’m stunned and my family and staff are stunned. We loved Kathleen and her friendship and her steadfast loyalty to our newspaper will always serve as the standard for how we do business here. She will be missed and never forgotten by all of us. What a terrible loss.”
Cheryl’s comments will be echoed by many in the community who knew Kathleen. She was a person who’s grasp of human events and the human condition was almost uncanny.
In the early part of the decade Kathleen was voted as one of the top 100 psychics in the country by her peers and over the years she established a client list that read like a Who’s Who of national and international celebrities including business, entertainment and political luminaries.
Kathleen never let the notoriety interfere with her love of Vermont and in particular her home county. The proprietary nature of her vocation did not lend itself to a flamboyant persona. She she was a trusted confidant to many and was considered a true professional in every sense of the word.
Her weekly column Starwise was always a first read for many long time Voice subscribers and her annual first of the year predictions were looked forward to like the dropping of the ball in Times Square every year by Voice readers.
Knowing Kathleen was a special treat especially for this reporter and long time Voice employee. We were good friends for over 20 years both in the broadcasting business television most recently in print here at the newspaper.
Kathleen loved words and had a wonderful command of the English language both spoken and written.
She had a terrific sense of humor and she was very savvy about why people do some of the things they do. Her advice was always wise and time tested. She was a humanitarian of the first order.
Like all columnists who are busy with many things there would be times when Kathleen might be just a tad late with her weekly deadline and so instead of badgering her this reporter would telephone her and give her my best armature impersonations of famous people requesting that she get her column in before deadline.
They were not very good impressions but Kathleen loved them and saved them on her answering machine to play back later and enjoy a good chuckle. I was told that the tapes were sometimes the highlight of her day.
She had become ill in recent months but seemed to be getting better. Now, she is no longer with us and will be missed but never forgotten.
Kathleen was very close to publishing another book and was making the rounds to publishers in the past several months.
Former Treasury Secretary William Simon wrote the forward to her latest book giving us some sense of Kathleen’s wide range of business and professional contacts. Kathleen Johnson has touched the lives of more people than any of us will ever know.
Kathleen Johnson - how can mere words describe such a complex, unique, warm, loving and vast soul? She was a symphony, the blues, an opera; a poem, a work of literature, a play, a comedy. She was a beautiful flower garden, exotic incense, nourishing food for the soul; she was the sky, the stars, the cosmos. Kathleen was a sensitive and generous friend, perceptive, witty, and intuitive. Her physical presence was magnetic, her laugh infectious, and her voice - her voice was music itself.
I first met Kathleen shortly before Samantha's birth, her face radiant and glowing with the light of an expectant mother. As our friendship evolved over the years we found ourselves sharing many of the same interests as parents, farmers, writers, observers of human nature, and seekers of Truth in its many forms. She invited me to write a column on nature and gardening for her magazine Aquarian Voices, and later asked me to reclaim her mother Ruthie's beautiful gardens at her Brandon farm. Most recently we worked together to bring forth her book on esoteric astrology, Mapping the Soul. Kathleen provided the intuitive wisdom and astrological knowledge which only she could provide, while I acted as midwife and asked, “What do you mean by this? Please give more examples! This passage moves me to tears.” As we worked together, we enjoyed deep conversations on subjects ranging from mundane to esoteric; we laughed at human folly (including our own) and wept at human pain, suffering and loss; we discussed the spiritual struggles of mankind and our hopes for the human race.
Kathleen's physical body has left us, and her departure leaves a huge void in the hearts and lives of all who loved her. But I know in my own heart that her soul lives on.
Karen Cadow Le Roy, Popoma Farm, Whiting, Vermont
Kathleen Johnson was a big woman. Hers was one of those minds that could remember nearly everything she read, and make connections between ordinary and esoteric realities. But most of all Kathleen was big with heart, gathering people to her wherever she went. Wisdom born of a life fully lived, and kindness that never waivered kept close those of us fortunate enough to call her a friend. Her passing leaves behind echoes of laughter, and stories told around the dinner table about her wild young adult years spent in the company of jazz musicians and opera singers in New York City, of her growing up years on the farm in Brandon and, of course, her adored daughter, Samantha.
Her passing leaves behind a hole that cannot be filled by anything but a spirit that even in death is larger than life.
Kathleen and I came to know each other through a mutual friend. However, it was our children Samantha and my son Dan that formed a lifelong bond for our two families. I can say without hesitation, Kathleen was the most remarkable person I've ever met.
She had it all: wit, intelligence, a sense of history, and a terrific sense of whimsy and humor. Being a super “people person,” Kathleen gave freely and completely of herself to all she met. Recently she shared with me that she was communicating through letters with a young girl in Afghanistan and showed me her picture. Last week I came for a visit from my home on Cape Cod and Kathleen said to me, “This is the first time we've had a visit by ourselves since our children have grown and moved out.” We had a peaceful, perfect visit, combining rest, laughter, watching her favorite television shows, reading and enjoying each other's company as two old friends do. Even though I believe Kathleen was an old soul who had lived through the ages, there was nothing old about Kathleen's spirit here on this plane. She loved music, and when her health was better thought nothing of jumping in the car with Samantha and going to a rock concert. One of my favorite stories was a time when, on her way to a concert, she heard a Bruce Springsteen song, “Rosie,” and pulled her car over to the side of the road and danced.
So friends of Kathleen, despite your sadness over losing this remarkable person, she would want us all to take time to stop by the side of the road and dance to our favorite song, and in her memory, keep smiling.
How do I begin? To sum up and describe almost 30 years of friendship seems like an impossible task. But to say that we were merely friends would not be an accurate description of what Kathleen was to me. We started out as client and astrologer. I thought she was just about the coolest chick that I had ever met. We continued that relationship until Kathleen, due to some wild and crazy circumstances, needed some moral support. That was the beginning of an incredible journey. Her office at the farm was where many things happened…from private conversations to hanging out with friends to tremendous musical jam sessions. Those were some wild times…times that Kathleen and I refer to as B.C. ……Before Children!
And so starts the next chapter of our life….. Kids! Her Samantha and my Jessie were born six months apart to the day. And just as their mothers, the girls became best friends. So needless to say, the four of us became inseparable and have gone on many, many adventures. There is a deep bond between the four of us that nobody dared mess with. We shared so much…. laughter, tears, inside jokes and much love. There are so many stories……too many to mention. But what would make us laugh (except Kathleen) was when we would call her "The Kathleen Johnson" !
Obviously a reference to her notoriety. Wherever we would go somewhere someone would always come up and say "Are you "The Kathleen Johnson"? and we would never let her forget it!
So how do we get along without our Kathleen Johnson? I don't have the answer to that but I know that whenever I want to see her, all I have to do is close my eyes. When I hear a stream, I will hear her laugh. And when I see an eagle in the sky, I will know that she is now free of the physical constraints that she had in life.
Good Bye my dear friend….The Kathleen Johnson.
I would like to consider myself lucky, blessed if you will. I was fortunate enough to be raised by two fabulous women. I was going to write amazing, but in all honesty fabulous is really the word. Lady number one is my biological mom. Most know her as the queen of the Brandon post office but more commonly as Jan Swahn or Jan Young depending on how long you've known her. She is the best mom I could ask for I wouldn't trade her for the world. However, there is a lady number two. Lady number two who equally embodies all the mommy qualities of lady number one is the one and only The Kathleen Johnson.
Kathleen and my mom have been best friends for well over twenty-five years. And in the mysterious or maybe even not so mysterious way the universe works they became pregnant right around the same time. Samantha Smith was born August 4th 1984 , Exactly to the day I Jesse was born six months later. From that time on we were a fearsome foursome, a force to be reckoned with.
However, it wasn't until after the death of my father that the family bond between the four of us was cemented. I was five years old. Kathleen's house was where the majority of my time was spent. In my opinion that is when she really became my second mama. From the age of five to about fourteen that old farm house was my other home. Kathleen was always someone I looked up to, even at a young age. She was someone incredible that everyone knew and loved. Kathleen truly was famous. She brilliantly spread light, love, wisdom, and happiness on everyone who was privileged to be bestowed with her presence. She shared so much wisdom with me. I knew whenever I had a problem, Kathleen had a solution. She knew just what to say every time I needed help. Her voice and words were like a cup of hot tea; soothing and warm. I can't describe her. But if you knew her, you know the feeling I speak of. Everyone who knew her fell in love with her.
And now she is gone. But that smile that she always brings to my face is never going to leave. That is how I am coping with the loss of my wonderful Kathleen. I know that where ever she is she is peaceful. I can live the rest of my days knowing that she is somewhere where the love we shared could even possibly be trumped by the love and healing she is receiving now. I loved that woman with all my heart and soul. She was truly my other mama.
And one thing that will keep me going is there is no doubt in my mind that the four of us have old souls. Our souls have shared many, many lives together. And I know that just because this one is over there are so many more to look forward to. I love you Kathleen, and in words I know you would sing to me, in the rest of my days here, I'll keep my eyes on the road and my hands upon the wheel.