Judy Ann Sullivan Johnson passed from this earth to return to her Heavenly Father on 18 October 2019, at the age of 67 due to her worn-out heart. She is best remembered for her love, service, and faith. She loved her kids and all the kids in the neighborhood. She appreciated that they knew she loved them. Judy loved to sing and to get the kids to sing along. She would often make up her own songs or rhymes right on the spot. Judy was not afraid to be silly, pull faces, and laugh. At camp she was “dancing with spoons,” doing the polka, or singing in the rain. She encouraged others to laugh and always laughed at silly jokes. She loved the kids at Jordan Ridge Elementary and worked with them in the classroom and on the playground for 7 years. Judy spent almost every summer while growing up at her cousin’s dairy farm in Upalco, Utah. She was always cheerful while milking the cows and shoveling manure – and she was famous for making up songs about both. When Judy was young, she loved going on family vacations all over the United States. After high school she traveled to Hawaii, Scotland, and England. Her travels continued with Ron and the kids on many family vacations and annual camping trips.
Judy was raised in Murray, Utah, graduated from Murray High School in 1970, served in the Missouri Independence Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 1973-1975, and participated in the New York Palmyra Pageant in 1975. She married Ronald W. Johnson on Friday the 13th of August 1976 in the Salt Lake Temple. They have seven children: Rachel [Jason Pehrson], Heidi [F. Brandon Bedont], Trevor Ronald [Kelly Wilson], Eric William [Sarah Brown], Benjamin Andrew [Hayley Mangum], Katie, and Sarah [Brandon Caldwell].
Judy’s family and the gospel meant everything to her. Judy and Ron spent lots of time with their kids doing early morning scripture study, Family Home Evening, soccer games, traveling, baptisms at various temples, lots of chores, and just making memories. She always said that their kids were raising them. Judy loved reading as a child and continued that love as an adult by studying the scriptures and other doctrinal books. Judy served in the Primary, Young Womens, Relief Society, music, and Cub Scouts – all of which she loved. A special time in her life was living in Corinth, Mississippi for almost 5 years. The Church members there became dear friends. Ron and Judy were blessed to travel with some cousins to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel in 2011. It was the trip of a lifetime and left a deeper testimony in Judy’s heart of the life and mission of our Savior.
Judy was the 6th of 9 children - born 15 December 1951 to John Lawrence and Delenna Tui Meehan Sullivan. Judy was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (a hole in her heart). At the age of 12 in 1964, her wise Bishop arranged for her to have open heart surgery which was performed by Dr. Russell M. Nelson. She was blessed by the Lord with a long life which blessed the life of all those who knew her. She is survived by her dear husband Ron, 7 wonderful children and dear spouses, and 13 darling grandchildren: Hannah Tui, Levi Jason, and Caleb Clarke Pehrson; Khloe, Caitlin, and Claire Johnson; Elizabeth (Betsy) Sahara, Jetson William, and Sullivan Sherwood Johnson; Peyton Andrew and Nolan Mangum Johnson; Caidence Brown; and Cayden Caldwell. Family to greet Judy on the other side of the veil include her granddaughter Abigail Marie Pehrson, her mom and dad, sisters Nancy Lee Densley and Terri Potts, Aunt Lola Meehan, grandparents, and many others. It will be a great reunion! The Gospel’s True! Sure love ya. Judy’s Motto: “Happy is the man who can laugh at himself; he will never cease to be amused.”
The family expresses gratitude to Dr. Kfoury and his team at the IMC Heart Failure Clinic who have helped Judy for the past 15 years; Dr. Dana Anderson, Primary Care Physician, who has been so kind and careful with her care for many years; and Robin Mengis, NP, for her compassionate care while Judy was in the IMC Coronary ICU. A special thanks to all the family, friends, and neighbors who have visited and supported Judy and her family these past few months.
A viewing will be held Thursday, 24 October 2019 from 6-8 PM at the South Jordan Stake Center (2450 West 10400 South, South Jordan, Utah). The funeral will be held Friday, 25 October 2019 at 11 AM at the same location with a viewing prior from 9:30-10:30. Interment will take place in the South Jordan Cemetery (10630 South 1055 West, South Jordan) after her final wagon ride with Ron.
JUDY ANN SULLIVAN JOHNSON 1951 - 2019
In 1951, Delenna Tui Sullivan was pregnant and having numerous health issues. On December 15, Judy was born to John L. and Tui Sullivan. Due to the many complications during the pregnancy, it was not a normal delivery. Judy was born at St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake City. She was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (a hole in the heart). The doctors did not think she would survive 24 hours. That day was a gift, and she survived. A few more gifted days and John and Tui were told to take her home and enjoy her for the limited days she may have on this earth. A few more gifted days.
Due to many gifted days, weeks, months and now years, Judy continued to grow. She spent many days just sitting on the steps of the house watching her siblings play. If she moved around too much, she would immediately turn blue due to a lack of oxygen in her system. Blue was a common color, but a color she never liked.
More gifted years and Judy started elementary school. At about this time, Judy (age 5) would have met her husband-to-be Ron (age 3); they attended the same primary/ward. The color blue continued to be a large part of Judy’s life, but she was blessed with enough health to be able to compete in elementary school hopscotch tournaments and some other physical activities (without her mother’s knowledge, of course).
By age 12, a new open heart surgical procedure was being successfully performed on children with her heart defect. The year previous, another young girl about Judy’s age that also lived in her ward, had the same surgery. Unfortunately, her surgery was unsuccessful and she passed away on the operating table. To say Judy’s parents were reluctant to have the surgery performed is an understatement. A good Bishop who understood that the surgery was imperative to Judy’s survival spent many hours with her parents helping them to understand this really was her only option for a longer life. Finally John and Tui agreed to the surgical procedure.
Preparations began. Doctor visits ensued. Prayers were offered. Just prior to the surgery, a special ward fast was held. Many ward members met at Ron’s parent’s home to close their fast. At that point, all that could be done had been completed. Judy went to the hospital and was prepared for surgery. The new “cutting edge” surgery was performed by a young surgeon named Russell M. Nelson, who later became President Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Judy’s heart was literally touched by a prophet, and her heart has always held a special gratitude for him.
The surgery was a success. Recovery was quick, and Judy started doing things she had never done before. The blue days were finally behind her. This new energy was amazing for her. She lived every day with gratitude as now every following day was a new gift to her.
During her teenage years, more doctors’ follow up visits ensued. It was during these years that she was told she would not be able to have any children – mostly due to the stress that it would put on her heart. She received her Patriarchal Blessing in 1968 which promised sons and daughters “tabernacled in the flesh”. The wording was interesting and, for Judy, was an answer to her prayers and hopes.
Judy and Ron knew each other all through this time, but there was no friendship or feelings toward each other. Judy was a serious young woman. Ron was yet to grow up. Ron had created some negative feelings as a lowly sophomore at Murray High by his teasing Judy as a mighty senior. Those feelings quickly went away when they saw into each other’s hearts after they both returned from missions.
At age 21, Judy had the opportunity to serve a full time mission to Independence, Missouri. More gifted days. Ron left on his mission to Australia about 2 months before Judy left for Independence. Judy returned a few months before Ron. Ron had finally grown up (mostly?). About 6 months after Ron returned from his mission, they found each other while fulfilling their church callings. When they finally “saw” each other, it was a matter of days and they both knew that they should be married. During their engagement, Ron was reminded by family members that Judy had a disability with her “bad” heart. Judy’s aunt even said he was “nice to marry a disabled girl”. Judy told Ron that they may have to adopt children. Ron said he could never adopt someone else’s child.
On August 13, 1976, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Shortly thereafter, they wanted to try and have a family. So with lots of help from the medical community including many visits to heart specialists throughout the pregnancy, Rachel was born. A couple years later and more doctors and Heidi arrived. They were followed by Trevor, Eric, and Ben. A few years later, they adopted two sweet, beautiful young girls, Katie and Sarah, who were then sealed into the family on Ron and Judy’s 21st anniversary. Judy again received a great gift and blessing in her life with 7 wonderful, special children – and more wonderfully gifted years.
From the beginning of not being expected to live more than a few minutes at birth, it became a few days, and then weeks – then year upon year. Another miracle of being able to serve a mission with honor followed by marriage and 7 awesome children. Judy has always had an amazing attitude. Truly, for her, every day was a great gift! A gift that she was not expected to have. It has been interesting to travel through life and be able to be with someone that honestly sees each day and each moment as an added gift.
One of the greatest gifts for Judy was watching as her children married wonderful spouses. She is so grateful for each of them. The icing on that cake was just a few months ago when Heidi, her special caregiver, was blessed to be married and miracles occurred that Judy could be there. Judy could then say, my work here is finished. My heart is so tired. So many gifted days and years. Unfortunately in 2004 the blue days began to return. But once again the blue days are over – this time for eternity.
Today our hearts are broken, but they will heal. Today, for the first time in 67 years, Judy’s heart has been made whole.