Gwen Johnson loved to write. Though she didn’t write her own obituary, she did have this to say in 2017 as part of her blog on the Biblical story of Joseph:
“Geeks Dig Deep. Not content with raking the shallow topsoil, Geeks want more than a shovel; they want a bulldozer. They want to dig deep into the depths of God’s word. They want maps. They want history lessons. They want footnotes. They want to know it all. But they also want their heart changed.”
“I am a geek. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and have been homeschooling my children for more than a decade. Through homeschool, co-ops, and tutoring, I have taught teenagers biology, physics, chemistry, algebra, geometry, calculus, history, English, Apologetics and Spanish. As far as geeks go, I’m pretty geeky. But it doesn’t stop there. I have spent the better part of two decades studying the Bible, reading it from cover to cover every year. I teach children about the Bible every week through an interactive drama ministry, convinced that the way to make you fall in love with the Bible is to make it real.”
Gwen sums up her passion in life – her family, her faith, and teaching. In addition, Gwen enjoyed Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Tolkien, and watching those weird BBC detective shows. She loved both Star Trek and Star Wars, caramel sundaes, daffodils, sandy beaches, chocolate, and almost every kind of animal. She never lost a knife fight. She loved gardening and scrapbooking when she could find the time. Besides homeschooling her kids, Gwen’s favorite way to spend a morning was in prayer at Panera Bread (with a bagel and unsweet tea), which she did almost daily for decades.
Gwen was not a fan of spicy food, scary movies, snow, modern politics, clutter, Burger King, having to reach things on the top shelf, seafood, how her husband always overcooked her steak, or when he’d complain about bad drivers.
Gwen grew up in Staten Island, New York City and graduated with honors from the University of Buffalo with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. It was at UB that she met her future husband, Brett. A college internship led to a job offer from General Motors, and after graduation in 1993, Gwen moved to Detroit and began working in Safety and Crashworthiness at the Truck Division of GM. Gwen gave birth to Casey in 1998, and when Luke was born in 1999 Gwen left the industry to become a full-time mom.
Brett’s career took Gwen and the family to Orlando in 2001 and then to Northern Kentucky in 2004. In both towns Gwen threw herself into church activities including children’s ministry and leading Bible studies. In 2003 Gwen’s third child, Jessica (or “Bean”) was born.
In 2006 Gwen decided to homeschool her family, and the Johnsons joined a homeschool co-op. Her science and math background, combined with her love and knowledge of scripture, made her uniquely qualified to teach the subjects she mentioned in her blog above. As the kids grew older, Gwen began looking for a way to continue teaching and sharing her love of Jesus into the next chapter of her life. In 2015 she began taking online courses to earn her Masters of Divinity degree, and in 2016 she and Brett toured Israel as part of one of her courses. Walking through the Holy Land took her geekdom to a new level and she began blogging her thoughts as a way to ease into publishing.
In 2016, the Johnsons moved back to Orlando. Gwen continued homeschooling, blogging, and volunteering in small groups and children’s ministry. In September 2018, after suffering months of back pain and stomach problems, Gwen was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She continued writing and teaching while undergoing multiple treatments and surgeries to keep the cancer from progressing. On the night of September 30, 2021, three years after her battle began, Gwen passed away at home with her family around her.
Gwen is survived by her husband Brett, children Casey, Luke, and Jessica, mother Sylvia Hancock, brother Andrew Hancock, sister Adrienne (Adam) Hancock-Brown and nephews Rowan and Samuel Brown, in-laws Gerald and Barbara Johnson, sister-in-law Kirstin (Tony) Coleson, niece Nicolette Coleson, nephew Dylan Coleson, and her extended family in Great Britain. Gwen is preceded by her father, Kenneth Hancock.
Gwen’s family would like to thank Florida Cancer Specialists at Waterman Hospital for giving them three extra years with her, especially Dr. Maen Hussein for filling Gwen’s visits with humor, compassion, and hope, and her nurse Lisa for always treating Gwen like she was her favorite patient, setting aside her favorite corner chair, and providing an endless supply of warm blankets.
You can still read Gwen’s blog, “Breakfast With Gwen“, on Facebook.
A Celebration of Gwen’s life will be held at Grace City Church, Sorrento, FL at 4:00 pm on Sunday November 7, 2021. A Celebration will also be held in NKY at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the “Gwen H Johnson Memorial Fund” at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or a donation in her memory to your local animal rescue organization.
When she finished her blog series on Joseph, Gwen closed with the following thoughts:
“It’s the last week of the study, and it brings with it the inevitability of death. Joseph’s whole family will die in Egypt. And, in case you didn’t know, we are going to die too. Not today, hopefully. But everybody dies. The good news is this is not the end. Egypt is not our final destination. God has a new heaven and a new earth for us, and after we leave our mortal coils, we will go to a place where He will wipe every tear from our eye. There will be no more death, because the old world will have passed away. Those of us in Christ need not fear death. Death only holds promise for us – promises that could not be fulfilled in this world, but will be kept in the near after… Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”
32441 Co Rd 437, Sorrento, FL 32776