With the death of Margaret "Magee" Johnson on November 30, our community lost a guiding light which increased in intensity over the decades as she, in many instances together with her husband Lorn, encouraged and led us to do more than we believed we could to serve our friends and neighbors.
Although physically small in stature, Magee walked tallher achievements "head and shoulders" above many of her contemporaries as she strove to make our community a better place through volunteering. She contributed her time and talents to a diverse group of organizations and events.
Magee devoted countless hours to promoting music, directing singing groups and choirs in her church and leading the Community Chorus for eighteen years. She also served as president of the local GFWC Women's Club and participated wholeheartedly in the club's activities to improve and enhance life in Iron Mountain-Kingsford and beyond.
A founding member of the Festival of the Arts, she chaired the group for many years. Often meeting in the living room at her home on Lake Antoine, members gathered to plan the summer's activities which included an annual "Music Under the Stars" concert at Lake Antoine Park and a juried art show which has become "Art for All." Musical performances by the Detroit Symphony and other groups were precursors of today's Pine Mountain Music Festival.
Often included were special exhibits at the Menominee Range Historical Museum, historic tours and booklets and antique car shows. Some special activity highlighted almost every weekend throughout the summer. A later addition, the weekly "Out to Lunch" program held on Thursdays throughout the summer with live entertainment, has steadily grown in popularity.
She promoted educational opportunities as a founding member of Community Schools and was a volunteer board member for Bay de Noc Community College's Bay West campus. For many years Magee served as an advisor for the Ski-Ters Water Show and was a race coordinator for the United States Ski Association.
Magee participated in a number of musicals with the Dickinson County Community Theater and, together with Lorn, was an avid supporter of the group through the years. She served on many boards and was a member of many committees, including the Dickinson County Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Dickinson County Hospital League, the Menominee Range Historical Foundation and the Downtown Development Authority.
While she was recognized for her many accomplishments within the community and beyond over the years, being so honored was not her goal. The accolades were well deserved, but Magee was a selfless individual who did not seek the limelight. She focused her attention on programs and projects which would enhance life for Dickinson County residents.
Magee was a friend to all and an inspiration to many. And when Magee "talked to you" about something she knew you could do, it was almost impossible to say "no." Her "can do" attitude, together with her ever-expanding network of friends and resources, allowed her to "work her magic" with the help of others to make things happen.
Magee's philosophy could perhaps best be defined by paraphrasing President John F. Kennedy's famous words from his inaugural address in 1961 to read: "Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community."
Hopefully many will take these words to heart and fill the void left by Magee and many others who have contributed unselfishly to keep our community vibrant, growing and progressing for a better future for this generation and those to follow.
The torch has been passed. While others have picked up the torch in many of the organizations Magee spearheaded over the years, volunteers are always needed in many areas throughout our community.
In her honor, and as a part of her legacy, together with other past and present community leaders, consider giving more of yourself to your church, community groups, leadership positions in the political arena and beyond. Find an activity or cause about which you feel strongly and lend it your support with your time and talent.
Like Magee, you, too, can make a difference.