Judith Johnson

Obituary of Judith Johnson

Judith “Judi” Johnson

A Pioneer in Cancer Nursing

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Judi, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and nurse to the world. She died peacefully on April 20, 2024, with her family by her side. Judi was preceded in death by her parents, Lois and Marion Bond, and her sister, Edith. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Randy; her sons, Ken (Mary Kay) and Aaron (Chris); granddaughters Morgan, Maya, and Toni; her brother Roger (Vicki) Bond; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Judi was born on July 10, 1937, in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Lois and Marion Bond. She later moved to Elmhurst, Illinois, with her parents, older sister Edith, and younger brother Roger. When she was 15, her father had a serious heart attack, requiring home nursing care. Judi had always wanted to be a nurse. The nurse assigned to her father’s care fostered Judi’s desire by teaching her how to give an injection and allowing Judi to help care for her father. Judi went on to receive her diploma in nursing from Augustana Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, and then a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Rochester (New York). Following graduation, she became a staff nurse at a local hospital. Judi continued her career doing public health nursing in Washington DC, where she provided home care nursing services to low-income areas of DC.

Judi and Randy met through mutual friends, and in 1961, they married in Rochester, NY. After living in Indiana for several years, they moved to Saint Paul, MN. Before starting her graduate education at the University of Minnesota, she worked as an instructor at Mounds-Midway School of Nursing in St. Paul and summers as a camp nurse at a Salvation Army Camp in Minnesota.

Judi received both a Master’s degree in Public Health from the School of Public Health (1975) and a Ph.D. in Adult Education (1979) from the College of Education and Human Development, at the University of Minnesota. She started working as a nurse at North Memorial Hospital in 1980, and, over the course of her nearly four-decade career there, she made a significant and lasting impact in the field of patient-centered care, especially for those with cancer. Judi is credited with establishing the first cancer support group in the Twin Cities, “I Can Cope.” This program, based on her Ph.D. dissertation, included free educational classes and a weekend retreat for cancer patients, family members, and close friends. The American Cancer Society took the program nationwide, with about 500,000 people in 49 states attending in the first 16 years.

In 1991, Judi suffered a severe stroke. However, within a year, she helped found The Comprehensive Stroke Center at North Memorial Hospital, a rehabilitation center for stroke patients, with herself as an example of what was possible. Additionally, she developed and coordinated StrokeWise, a patient education and support group for stroke survivors.

In 1993, in addition to her other work responsibilities, Judi started her own consulting business, HealthQuest, which served individuals, hospitals and companies whose interest was learning about the process of adapting to living with chronic illness.

Judi was a huge supporter of nursing education and launched a Ph.D. program at Hokkaido University of Health Sciences in Sapporo, Japan. She held a faculty position there from 1999 to 2004. The goal was to have a three-year course that trained nurses within Japan, rather than having them study in foreign countries. Additionally, she helped start a nursing program at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, with a current enrollment of almost 700 nursing students. In 2010, Judi was appointed as a Fulbright Scholar, which led to patient education projects at Tianjin University and Cancer Center in China and Daystar University in Kenya.

In 2018, the Regents at the University of Minnesota honored Judi with an Outstanding Achievement Award. In it the University stated that “Judith Johnson was an indomitable champion of the oncology nursing field in Asia and around the world, who worked tirelessly to address health care staffing shortages, while being an extraordinary innovator who helped supportive care grow into a specialized evidence-based field to become standard procedure for the seriously ill.”

Judi was deeply involved in both national and international professional organizations related to oncology. She helped launch the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and served as its associate director, was a key consultant in establishing the Asia-Pacific Oncology Nursing Society (AONS), as well as founding editor of the organization’s professional journal. Moreover, she served as president of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) for four years and was appointed to the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC) Board twice. She was the author of numerous books, journal articles, and educational resources. She was the recipient of many prestigious awards and recognitions, including the ONS/Amgen Award for Excellence in Patient/Public Education, the ONS Distinguished Service Award, the ONS Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Award, the American Cancer Society’s Outstanding Service Award, and was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), the most prestigious recognition for nurses in the United States.

Despite her illustrious career in nursing, Judi counted her marriage to Randy and her family as her greatest accomplishments. Although Judi continued to travel the world, she always found her greatest joy in spending time with her family, especially her granddaughters, during lazy summers at the cabin on Lake Sylvia, where she loved doing jigsaw puzzles, playing games, telling stories, taking boat rides, watching loons, and floating in the lake.

Judi was an inspiring colleague, mentor, and trailblazer in the field of oncology nursing. Those blessed to have met her will feel her accomplishments and impact for years to come. She will be missed by many all over the world.

In lieu of any flowers, donations may be made to Daystar US (www.daystarus.org), NC Little Hospice (www.littlehospice.org), or Christ Presbyterian Church (www.cpcedina.org).

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, June 21 at 11am at Christ Presbyterian Church, 6901 Normandale Rd, Edina, MN 55435. Livestream of the service may be accessed online at https://www.cpcedina.org/memorials.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Judith
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society Of Minnesota | Edina