Carol Bower Johnson died on 10/01/2023 at her home in Pittsboro, NC, embraced by her husband and two sons. Funeral services will be held on 10/05/2023 at 1:00 PM at The Community Church of Chapel Hill, 106 Purefoy Rd, Chapel Hill, NC. with Reverend Thom Belote officiating, The ceremony will be followed by a reception at the home of her son Benjamin and his wife Michele at 2115 Carriage Way, Chapel Hill, NC. A private burial with immediate family will take place on 10/06/2023 in Lillington, NC.
Carol was born in East Orange, NJ and grew up in Glen Ridge, NJ and Toledo, Ohio. She was the daughter of Robert A Bower and Margaret Garrison Bower, and granddaughter of Joseph A Bower who was famous in family lore for building the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. She graduated High School in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, went on to earn a degree in Nursing from Riverside Hospital School of Nursing in Toledo, Ohio, and subsequently attended Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, studying Sociology.
She worked as a psychiatric nurse in inpatient and community settings and was in clinical managerial roles in Boston by her mid-twenties. The primary focus of her professional career became addressing the plight of the homeless population in Massachusetts, first as a community advocate and eventually as Director of Homeless Services for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, where she was honored for her work. An adolescent admiration of medical missionary Albert Schweitzer and his devotion to serving vulnerable individuals and communities continued as a persistent theme in her life as a nurse and activist.
Carol was a beautiful, energetic, optimistic, good-humored, sometimes feisty woman with a strong sense of her own agency, who was never hesitant to speak up when she felt it was called for, or to work behind the scenes with reporters to accomplish public policy goals. She was a splendid partner to her husband of 52 years and a devoted mother and grandmother. In addition to being a graceful and dynamic dancer, a photographer and a poet, she was an inspiration to many including, it is believed, the writer and singer of the 1968 recording "Something in the Way She Moves". She loved music and played it loudly, from the Chicago Blues of Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed to Neil Young and Alan Jackson and many more.
She is survived by her husband Dr Burt Johnson of Pittsboro, NC and sons Alexander of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Benjamin of Chapel Hill, NC and sister Emma Davies of San Diego, California, along with five grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Julia Gibson.
Memorial Donations can be made in lieu of flowers to The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 73 Buffum St, Lynn, MA 01902 and to the Duke Dementia Family Support Program, Box 3600,
Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, to which the family wishes to extend their gratitude for the support provided to them and to Carol over the last year of her life.