Activist remembered for inspiration
A committed, passionate and dedicated Red Deer community and political activist, Yvonne Johnson, has died.
The longtime Conservative and Action Bus advocate died early Wednesday morning in hospital at the age of 76.
She had two sons. One of them, Grant Johnson, said she was an inspiration both in his pursuit of political life and at home.
“She was extremely dedicated to the community and worked very hard to provide for the family tirelessly,” said Grant.
“I would remember as a very young boy hearing the adding machine as she would be performing her duties as an accountant for a law firm, but also taking on work from other law firms.”
Grant, like his mother, was active with both the provincial Progressive Conservative and federal Conservative parties.
“Mother’s inspiration allowed me to make my own direction and with that it broadened me individually to even serve internationally in spreading democracy.”
Yvonne grew up in the Drumheller Valley and moved to Red Deer in 1954, where she completed high school.
From 1977 to 1985 she operated a store, the Wardrobe, first by herself when it was known as Yvonne’s House of Fashion and then with partners Phyllis Anderson and Stephanie Lawrence.
She was one of the early supporters in Alberta of the PCs, starting in 1966, five years before they dethroned the Social Credit Party.
She was elected as president of the Red Deer provincial PC constituency association in 1974, becoming the first woman to earn that role.
She had previously held the same role with the federal constituency association.
In 1985, she suffered a brain aneurysm that almost killed her. An operation two months later left her paralysed on the right side of her body and confined to a wheelchair.
Being in the wheelchair turned her into a strong activist and advocate for the Red Deer Action Bus.
City Coun. Lynn Mulder said she took a lot of Yvonne’s phone calls about the Action Bus.
“She’s a really strong Conservative member,” said Mulder. “She was one of these people who could get the prime minister on the phone any time she wanted to.
“She had a really good sense of humour. Even when she would have a concern with something, she could still laugh.”
Mulder had just visited her Tuesday afternoon while Yvonne was in hospital and showed her the election results.
“She was one of my biggest fans, and had others she wanted to make sure got in,” said Mulder. “I went in (Tuesday) and gave her the results.”
Mulder used to attend community dinners Yvonne would hold, but usually there was an agenda where whoever was invited would have great discussions.
Later in Yvonne’s life, Mulder would drive her to doctor appointments in Edmonton or Calgary.
“She always said to me ‘Lynne, get out there and campaign. Are you knocking on doors?’ ” said Mulder. “I’d tell her I wasn’t knocking on doors and she’d insist I do.”