FAIRBORN — In 1948, 13-year-old Loretta Johanson started as a Red Cross candy striper at First Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
That same year, Harry Truman was elected president. The Berlin Airlift took off for a divided Germany. For the next seven decades, Johanson would go on to serve as a Red Cross volunteer. She passed away on July 29 at her Fairborn home. She was 84 years old.
In the last five years, Johanson personally logged 5,153 volunteer hours. According to an interview she gave to the Greenville Daily Advocate in 2017, she set up clinics at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. She also provided Red Cross disaster response assistance during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City.
Most recently, she served as the volunteer coordinator at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She staffed the Red Cross office in room BK-K2 in the basement of the Medical Center. There she supplied her expertise in ARC services, as well as kind and gentle support, to the visiting soldiers and their families. She was also responsible for volunteer intake and assignments, tracking volunteer hours and participation, and award nominations. Her small group of volunteers devoted 1,000 hours per month to the Red Cross.
According to representatives, the 84-year-old would often joke “when you see my name in the obituaries that will be when I stop volunteering.”
In 2018, Johanson was presented with her 70-year volunteer recognition pin at a chapter ceremony in Troy. Johanson, who spoke fondly of her many years with the Red Cross during an impromptu speech, refused her walker to assist her from the podium back to her seat. Her tirelessness and spitfire spirit have earned her the admiration of her friends and peers.
“Loretta Johanson is a wonderful example of the Greatest Generation,” said Stephanie Byrd, regional executive for Central and Southern Ohio. “She understood at an early age the importance of personal responsibility, joining the Red Cross as a young teenager. Throughout her Red Cross career, she demonstrated integrity, an ethic of hard work and personal commitment to serve others. We are grateful for her 70 plus years of service and are better because of her presence.”
Johanson is survived by her husband Dave; brother Jonathan; daughters, Cathy, Debbie and Karen; grandchildren; great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
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