Obituary: Shirley Johnson


Shirley Johnson

Shirley Johnson passed away peacefully, with daughters by her side, in San Luis Obispo on January 13, 2022. All who knew her would agree that she was a kind, generous and creative soul. She will be greatly missed.

Shirley was born and raised in Pasadena, California. She attended Pasadena City College and then went on to pursue a teaching degree at UCLA. There she met her future husband, Jim Johnson, whom she married in 1960. Shirley and Jim settled in Sherman Oaks where their daughters Monica and Sandra were born. The Johnson family moved to Malibu in 1966 to enjoy the beach and the beauty of rural life.

Shirley began her teaching career in Culver City where she continued to teach after moving to Malibu. On a whim, Jim proposed building a preschool near their home that Shirley would direct and operate. In the early 1970s, Heathercliff School for Young Children opened. Shirley loved to learn, and that passion was shared with the many children she taught (some of whom still live in Malibu). In the ten years of running the school, she employed numerous local moms and high school students.

After Shirley retired from teaching, she poured her energies into her creative pursuits and interests-needlepoint, oil painting, stained glass, and her cactus garden with artfully painted sticks. Shirley and Jim enjoyed visiting art museums and attending plays.

Shirley spent the last years of her life near her grandchildren, Josh and Lily, whom she enjoyed and loved with all her heart. She appreciated their creativity and artistic natures, encouraging them with her words and by her own example.

Shirley was preceded in death by her husband, Jim. Shirley is survived by daughters Monica (partner Klaus) and Sandra (Tim, Joshua & Lilianna), brother Bob (Petie, Maria, and her family), cousin Jim (Corky). Her loss will also be keenly felt by her small circle of close friends whose love and adventures span over several decades.