Elva Mae [Kelly] Johnson, 99, of the Illinois Veterans Home, Quincy, Ill., formerly of Coatsburg, Collinsville, and East St. Louis, Ill., passed away peacefully on Saturday, May, 27, at Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill.
She was born May 14, 1924, in St. Louis, Mo., the daughter of John H. Kelly and Rosa Ellen (Wiggains) Kelly. When her father was 34, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and as he became worse, her mother and father left Elva and her brother, Radford, with Rosa’s parents, James P. and Mary Jane Wiggains, in Texas Co, Mo., and went to Colorado Springs, Colo. Her father died in Colorado when Elva was two-years-old. When her mother returned from Colorado, she went to St. Louis to work, leaving the children with her parents.
Elva attended Ellsworth School, Texas Co., Mo., until third grade. She then attended third and fourth grades in St. Louis, Mo. She went back to Ellsworth School until graduating eighth grade. Then she went to Licking, Texas Co., Mo., schools. She graduated from Licking High School and moved to St. Louis. While working as a waitress, she would serve ice cream to a young gentleman who had enlisted in the Army and would eventually be shipped out to San Diego, Calif., during World War II. She would make several trips to San Diego. He would make some trips back home and on one of the trips back home, he would propose to her. She flew out to San Diego and would live with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Kerney Johnson. While there, she worked building airplanes. She married Pfc. George L. Johnson on December 24, 1943. He preceded her in death on March 14, 1995.
She was the matriarch who would head four generations of nurses. Beginning with herself, then her sons would follow, with William in nursing and James in radiology. Her grandson, Andrew, would follow in nursing and then Andrew’s daughter would follow also into nursing (will graduate in December 2023).
Her husband received a head injury while training to go overseas. About six months later, they flew back to St. Louis, Mo. They moved to East St. Louis, Ill., for George’s job and she went to the Licensed Practical Nurse program. After years of doing private duty nursing, she would work at Christian Welfare Hospital (Gateway Community Hospital which closed in 1989), St. Mary’s Hospital, and Centerville Township Hospital (now Touchette Regional Hospital) where she would become the Infectious Disease Nurse and make numerous trips to the CDC in Atlanta, Ga., for update training. She would go on to get her RN through St. Louis Community College. They would move up to Collinsville, Ill., and she would get her BSN through McKendree University, Lebanon, Ill.
Elva was a die-hard, lifetime St. Louis Cardinals fan, not wanting to miss watching or listening to a game or being at the game. Elva would be seen with a radio to her ear and you knew not to bother her unless you wanted to know the score. Her grandson, Andrew, and his family were always taking her to at least the last home game of the season. During a home game, on July 29, 2017, she was chosen by the Cardinals’ roaming announcer in the stadium to do the Scoreboard Game, answering several questions about the Cardinals while she appeared on the screen. She answered all correctly and received several prizes.
Elva and George belonged to the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans and were always working for the veterans. She and George were both lifetime members of both organizations and auxiliaries and held many local offices. In 1956, she was elected as the Illinois State Commander of the DAVA. She traveled the state visiting all the Units in Illinois and many of the trips were with her male counterpart. After her year was up, she would take the office of State Adjutant and would hold the office for the next 32 years. She would go on to hold numerous National offices. She put in a huge number of hours working as a volunteer at the VA hospitals in the St. Louis area. Over the years, she also volunteered at the Scott Field Air Force Base, Ill.
Elva was preceded in death by her parents and stepfather; her husband; her son, James L. Johnson; a grandson, William R. Johnson, Jr.; her brother and sister-in-law Radford L. and Marjorie Kelly; sisters-in-law Maj. Nellie G. B. Poore, Ret., and Willa Lorene Belangee and husband Harold; three nieces and spouses, Mildred and Jasper Whitfield, Ellen and Mike Melichar; nephew Jack Belangee and wife Gerda; and Joel Fisler.
Elva is survived by son and daughter-in-law William R. and Bonnie J. Johnson, Coatsburg, Ill.; grandson Darren L. (Kimberly) Johnson, Washington, Mo.; grandchildren, Anthony C. (Nelle) Johnson, Louisville, Ky., Andrew C. (Yessica) Johnson, Coatsburg, Ill., Angela C. (Brandyn Ryan) Waterkotte, Riley M. (Joshua) Adrian, San Diego, Calif., Jake N., Max G., and Luke S. Johnson, Washington, Mo. Also, great-grandchildren, Aaron C. and Aidan C. Johnson, Louisville, Ky., Alger F. (Haylie) Johnson, Peoria, Ill., Alexia M. Johnson, Coatsburg, Rebekkah B. and Charlotte R. Waterkotte, Coatsburg. Her first great-great-granddaughter, Nora C. Adrian, San Diego, Calif., nieces Carol A. (Tom) Lory, Scottsdale, Ariz., Linda S. Fisler, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif., and Jacqueline Rose (William) Boyd, Richardson, Texas. Also, great-nephews William L., Brian J., and Steven N. Whitfield, Raleigh, N.C., and great-niece Shelly L. Speidel, Belleville, Ill.
The family would like to thank the staff of Illinois Veterans Home, Markword I, for the wonderful care they provided Elva.
Funeral services will be held Monday, June 12, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. at Faith Baptist Church in Camp Point by Pastor Tom Robbins. Graveside services will be held on Monday at 2 p.m. at Lake View Memorial Gardens in Fairview Heights, Ill.
Visitation will be held Monday morning from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. with Nurse Honor Guard services at 9:20 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, Memorials per Elva’s wish can be made to the following: Faith Baptist Church, 1926 Hwy 94, Camp Point, IL 62320; St. Peter’s Evan. Lutheran Church, 320 Adams St, Coatsburg, IL 62325; Central Adams County Fire Protection District, 300 S Main St, Coatsburg, IL 62325; or Donor’s choice.
Online condolences may be left at www.hamiltonfuneralhomes.net.
The Lummis Hamilton Funeral Home in Camp Point is handling the arrangements.