Marillyn Barker Edwards Johnson died peacefully at her home on March 23, 2020 at age 93. She was born June 15, 1926 in Salt Lake City along with twin sister Marie to Ellis Webster Barker and Virginia Freeze Barker. Brother Richard was born in 1930.

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Music and creativity dominated the Barker household with the two sisters and brother Dick giving command performances at the many parties hosted by their dynamic parents and the close-knit extended Barker family. She attended the University of Utah majoring in education and then Yale University where she earned a Masters degree in theater. Marillyn was a devoted member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, meeting monthly with her sorority sisters and recently received her 75-year pin.

Married Ralph Arnold Edwards in 1948, later divorced. Had two children, Jeffery Barker Edwards and Wendy Virginia Edwards. Married Norman Dale Johnson in 1961 and added daughter Jennifer to the household. Later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1976.

She had lifelong career in public education primarily at Bonneville Junior High School in Salt Lake City where she taught English for 32 years and opened the world of literature and writing to many young people. She loved gardening, was a gifted poet and collaborated with Marie on her operas and other musical compositions. Marillyn was passionate about family history not only her own proud heritage from Italy and England but in teaching others to write their own stories.

Preceded in death by her parents, husband Dale, twin sister Marie Barker A teacher, a poet, a twin: someone loved by many Nelson Bennett, brother Richard Ellis Barker and infant, Eric Todd Johnson. Survived by her children, Jeffery (Karamea) Edwards, Wendy (David) Arnold, Jennifer (Tom) McPherson; 9 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

A family graveside service will be held on Friday, March 27 at the Murray City Cemetery. A memorial event will be held at a future date where friends and family can celebrate her life. Please send memories to or leave your thoughts at her online guestbook at In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the Utah Food Bank. The family offers our thanks to her wonderful caregivers at Canyon Creek and Bristol Health.

You can view video of the complete graveside service here:

Life Story Info


Jeff Edwards

Post Date

Mar 28, 2020

Personal Info


Salt Lake City, United States


Salt Lake City, United States





Religion and Beliefs

Latter-day Saint



Worked For

  • Granite School District, Bonneville Jr High School


  • Bachelor's
    University of Utah
  • Master's
    Yale University
Concerned about this Life Story? Please let us know.
NEXT Micki Taylor Micki Taylor


Marilyn and I received a fellowship to study writing in 1981 and then met monthly for ten years. What a joy she was and so generous to host at her lovely home. I loved her and found her poems full of life and wonderful surprises. I will miss her.

Mona Daniels Clark Apr 24, 2022

There are usually a handful of teachers who really make a difference in one's life and for me Mrs. Johnson was one of those teachers. She was my 9th grade English teacher at Bonneville and until her class, I had always hated the subject of English but something about her and her class clicked and ever after English became my favorite subject and I later ended up getting a bachelor's degree in journalism -- something that never would have happened without the influence of Mrs. Johnson. I truly looked forward to her class and to seeing her and in addition to exciting me about whatever subject she was teaching, she conveyed and acceptance and appreciation of me that made me feel confident and important. She was a great, great teacher and I'm sure she affected many students the same way she touched me. I'm glad to know she lived such a long life and she will continue to live long in my memories as one of those people who most shaped who I became. Thank you Mrs. Johnson. You were the greatest.

Richard R. Adams , Sackets Harbor, NY, US Apr 02, 2020

So many times over the years I have wished I could tell your sweet Mom and Grandmother what a wonderful person and teacher she was. She was kind, patient and accepting of during a har time in my life❤️

Truly a wonderful person❤️

Lori Langford , South Jordan, UT, US Apr 02, 2020

Marillyn Johnson’s Funeral March 27, 2020

talk given by Wendy Edwards Arnold, daughter

Who was Marillyn? A list

A DAUGHTER: of Ellis Webster Barker and Virginia Freeze Barker June 15, 1926

A SUPRISE: Virginia did not know she was having twins. After Marie’s birth, Virginia was in recovery when the Nurse said in surprise. “There’s another baby!” Virginia was hurried back into the Delivery Room and after a difficult forceps birth, there was Marillyn.

A TWIN: Marillyn and Marie had a wonderful relationship through their whole lives, through good times and difficult ones. They maintained close contact throughout often talking almost daily. They truly loved each other. They even collaborated artistically with Marillyn writing poetry and pros and Marie writing music to go with it.

A BIG SISTER: to her brother Dick. She watched out for him, had fun with him, teased him and supported him.

A FRIEND: Marillyn loved people: Her Kappa Sisters, teaching friends, neighbors, students, care givers, everybody

A RELATIVE: Cousin, Aunt, Niece, Mother, Grandmother. Extended famly was very important to Marillyn. Didn’t matter if you were a 1st cousin, 2nd cousin, 3rd twice removed, aunt, uncle, or whatever. You were family and that was great. Family is fun!

A LIFE LONG LEARNER: She loved to read, usually 4 books at a time. Most prized posessions were 2 library card, one county and the other city. She encouraged our learning too taking us to extra classes, lectures, museums etc. Many times I got excited calls from her telling me of something new she had learned or about an upcoming PBS program we should watch.

AN ART LOVER: all the Arts. Dance, theater, music, literature, galleries. ALL of them. She painted, sang, acted, wrote and enjoyed the arts.

A GARDENER: She loved flowers, trees, water, birds, squirrels, butterflies, her garden, other gardens

A DOG LOVER: Mugs, Kurtz, Gretchen, Heidi and Piper, Honeybear, Max. She even loved our dogs and came to visit them.

A GIVER: Marillyn really wanted to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in people’s lives. She served her friends and her community. She was inspired by her Kappa Sisters and worked with them to serve. She joined the Jr. League of Utah. Two of her projects that I remember with them was teaching Ceramics to troubled youth and joining the Puppet Troop. They made puppets, wrote scripts and performed shows to schools all over the Wasatch Front. Tow themes I remember was oral hygiene and stranger danger. She also served her students and community. She started started a Writing Group who met monthly even when she was living in Assisted Living. She also taught her fellow residents at Canyon Creek Assisted Living. She listened patiently to people.

A TEACHER, AUTHOR, POET: She shared her talents and tried to bring out the talents of others. She loved and CARED about her students. She inspired them. She instilled a love of literature in them and made learning FUN. She taught ANYONE who would try it to write.

A LOVER of husband, family, people, life, and God

A BRAVE WOMAN: She had some painful things in her life both physically and emotionally and she handled it with grace and courage

A GOOD LISTENER: She knew how to listen and support. She would give advice when asked and it was usually good advice.

A GRATEFUL PERSON: She appreciated others efforts and said “thank you” daily.

A BELIEVER: in Jesus Christ. She was a bit rebellious but when she prayed with real intent she felt Him there. She decided to go back to worshiping Him. She taught Primary, served in Young Women, served as a tour guide at the Jordan Temple grounds, taught classes on writing personal and family history. She also, in collaboration with her siblings, wrote books on her Mother and Dad. Also other family stories.

A WONDERFUL MOM AND GRANDMA: She truly loved Jeff and me. She loved our children and their children. Family is great and so much FUN!

Marillyn was AWESOME and she DID make a difference!

Jeff Edwards Mar 29, 2020