Mrs. Leola A. Johnson (Courtesy photo)

Leola A. Johnson, a longtime Sentinel subscriber, will observe a century of good living when she celebrates her 100th birthday on Sunday, May 12.

A resident of Los Angeles since 1945, Mrs. Johnson attributes her longevity to “daily prayer and doing good to all people.”  In fact, her philosophy towards life is, “Don’t look for something bad in people, but look for the good in them.  There is something good is everyone.”

Such optimism has guided this regal lady for the past ten decades. Born in McDade, Louisiana, Mrs. Johnson graduated from Central Colored High School in Shreveport in 1944 and wedded Rufus Hawkins.

While that marriage ended in divorce, the two continued to communicate about the welfare of their children, Walter Ray, Emily Patricia, Annette Christine, and Michael James.

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In 1957, she married Lester Johnson and her fifth child, Jerry Lee, was born.

Mrs. Johnson successfully raised five children as well as enjoyed a 28-year government career at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.  After retiring in 1980, she volunteered with various ministries at Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church where she has been a member since 1959.

Over the years, Mrs. Johnson has donated her time and talents to the church’s Sunday School Department, General Mission, Ruth Circle, Sick/Solace Ministry, Culinary Ministry, and Baptist Training Union. Currently, she remains an active member of the Senior Citizen’s Ministry, serving as a contact person, and Noon Day Prayer, a weekly gathering that she regularly attends.

A dedicated supporter of her pastor, the Rev. DeNon Porter, Mrs. Johnson says she “loves reading and studying the whole Bible” and that Psalms 23 is her favorite scripture reading. Citing the characteristics she most appreciates, she listed “generosity, kindness, and seeing the goodness in others.”

Mrs. Johnson beautiful and funny personality has left a noticeable impression on her family, who shared some endearing memories about life with their treasured loved one.  For example, her daughter, Emily Patricia, recalled her mother’s mischievousness.

“As a. little girl, my mother calls us to come and see all the frogs jumping in the yard. We all ran to see the spectacle and my mother called out, ‘April Fool!’ And we all laughed at the trick,” her daughter said. 

Granddaughter Virna Lisi Bent remembered bringing Mrs. Johnson bringing her an important item before she left on an elementary school field trip. Describing the situation, she said,I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I looked up and there was my grandmother getting on that yellow school bus bringing what I need for the field trip.  She filled the void like ‘super woman!’”

Mrs. Johnson can trace her lineage to the birth of her great grandfather, Albert Autry, who was born in slavery in 1835. He married another slave, Angeline Harris, and they were parents of 13 children.  Her paternal grandfather was Walter Autry, born in 1878 in Louisiana.  Her parent were J.C. and Mary Autry.