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LIFE and LOVE: PAULA PAT ORR JOHNSON
Sleet and icy streets existed at 3:30 a.m., December 5, 1929, in Duncan, Oklahoma, when Clifford and Thelma Orr rejoiced in the arrival of their healthy, 8+ pound first child who they immediately named Paula Pat. On early Saturday June 11, 2022, Paula died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by family in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
Paula always loved and felt loved by her family and the many aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents living in Duncan and celebrating special occasions throughout her first 17 years. Family, church, music and school filled her life with enjoyment, loving support and confidence in herself and her future. She was always positive and had a ready, genuine laugh. She always felt loved by God and loved God throughout life.
Paula married Richard Johnson in 1949. Military life followed for 24 years. Paula left hometown Duncan and lived in Nevada, Missouri; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Ft. Benning, Georgia; Vicenza, Italy; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; Heidelberg, Dettelbach, Kitzingen, Schweinfurt, and Wurzberg Germany; Joliet, Illinois; Colorado Springs, Colorado; White Sands, New Mexico; Iwakuni, Itsukaichi, and Camp Zama, Japan; Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; and San Antonio, Austin, and Dripping Springs, Texas. Although relocating was tiring, Paula never lost her love of travel.
The absolutely greatest loves of her life were her three sons, Mark Stanton, Gregg Steven, and Dane Sterling Johnson. Paula loved being a mom and military wife. She was President of Officers' Wives' Clubs and served in various military community leadership roles.
Paula met Douglas Weitzel as Texas Department on Aging (TDOA) colleagues, working several years together. They were married June 30, 1991, and subsequently made their home together in Dripping Springs in 1992. They were married 20 years. She kept her lifelong name of Paula Johnson.
In Dripping Springs life centered around the United Methodist Church, where they helped start The Seekers Sunday School Class and she became a charter member of The Kindred Spirits Emmaus Reunion Group. Douglas sang in the choir and helped start The Quartet.
As Douglas’ health declined, in 2011 they sold their home, downsized, and entered Englewood Estates, where they lived until Douglas’s death May 9, 2014. Paula then moved into apartment living on Town Lake in downtown Austin until 2019, when she relocated to live with her son Dane in Ft. Mill South Carolina.
She treasured her friends and colleagues from all aspects of her life immensely and still felt loved and cherished throughout her life into her final moments. She never lost her enthusiasm for life and her love for everyone in her life.
Paula loved learning and life-long learning. Her educational opportunities culminated in a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and master's degrees in Education and Gerontology. Years of living in Italy, Germany, Japan and six states in the U.S. increased her awareness and acceptance of different cultures, languages, and wisdom. This wisdom carried her very successfully through her professional life as a gerontologist.
After her family, by far her greatest love was her professional career as a Gerontologist for almost 20 years. Opportunities while on staff of the TDOA led her to draft and help pass legislation creating the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature, create the Governor's Conference on Aging under then Governor Bush, and become a Founder for the University of Texas Learning Activities for Mature People (UTLAMP) – later renamed Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Texas. Paula was a strong advocate for the elderly and their programs as a Senior Advocate and Gerontologist, beginning in 1981 until her death.
Paula was a spark in LIFE and LOVE. Paula will return to her hometown of Duncan to be buried next to her son Gregg, her mother and father, and grandfather. She is survived by Mark Johnson and his wife Hillary, Dane Johnson and his wife Laurie, and grandchildren Grace and Michael Johnson.
Paula rejoices now to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Memorial services will be held in Dripping Springs, Texas and Duncan, Oklahoma. Dates, locations, and times are indicated below.
In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to: