Ms Johnson celebrates her 101st birthday

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Happy Birthday to Mrs Florence Ada May Elizabeth Sheppard Johnson, OM, who turned 101st birthday yesterday.

Florence Ada May Elizabeth Sheppard Johnson, OM, was born to Amelia Isaac and James Alexander Sheppard on 19e June 1921. The midwife registered her name as Florence and was born in Liberta, Parish of Saint Peter, Antigua and Barbuda. She was, however, never known as Florence, but by what is believed to be her baptismal name Ada May.

As a child, she was cared for by an adoptive aunt, the village teacher. She attended Gracehill Government School and, perhaps unsurprisingly, she began her teaching career at a very young age at this institution. The Pupil Teacher system was the order of the day, and at the end of four years of teacher training, she received a scholarship to attend Spring Gardens Teacher Training College in Antigua.

After college, she was assigned to St John’s Girls Government School, then under the capable and able guidance of the late Mary Pigott, where she taught for 22 years. During this period, she specialized in crafts and took courses in Grenada and then at the Brighton College of Arts and Crafts in England. She was later assigned to the Ministry of Education where she held two positions – (i) Supervisor of Girls’ Crafts and (ii) Secretary to the Local and Overseas Examination Administrator of the ‘era. This period lasted 10 years.

After retiring from public service and taking a well-deserved rest for about a year and a half, Ms. Johnson took up the mantle of teaching at Foundation Mixed (Miss Davis) School, working there for 16 years, before finally to retire. In all, she served 52 years as an educator.

On a more personal note, she married the late Walter R Johnson in the 1950s. This marriage produced six sons – Maurice (deceased), Costayne, Lenworth, Karol, Michael and Patrick. An adopted son, Ivor James (deceased) completes the lineup of boys. She has 16 grandchildren.

She loves singing, dancing and music in general. During her singing days, she sang in choirs such as the Spring Gardens Senior Choir (she was then Moravian), the Community Players, and the choirs at St Joseph’s and Holy Family Cathedral.

Ada May Elizabeth Sheppard Johnson received national honors in 2017. She was appointed an Officer of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit, OM, for her distinguished contribution to technical and vocational education.

She made great sacrifices for her children, grandchildren and others. She will always be remembered as a rather quiet and unassuming person, but with a fierce determination to get the things she wanted and an undying love for her country of Antigua and Barbuda.

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