Mary Alice Johnson


(Aug. 31, 2005)

A memorial service was held Wednesday, Sept. 7 at First Methodist Church in Powell for Mary Alice Johnson, 81, who died Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Powell Valley Health Care.

She was born Mary Alice Bridenbaugh on April 23, 1924, to Dr. John H. and Jennie Bridenbaugh in Billings, Mont. She was the youngest of four children, joining older sister Thelma and brothers Robert (Bob) and Richard (Dick). She graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1942 and from the University of Colorado, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority, with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1946.

She married Merle Johnson of Havelock, Iowa, on Dec. 21, 1946. They returned to Billings and then settled in Powell in 1959 where they raised a family of five children, Brent, Sarah (Sally), Laurie, Kyle and David. Mary Alice exhibited great devotion to her family, but found time to pursue her passion for music and to assume active leadership roles in her church, community and career.

She was an accomplished pianist. She gave her first recital at the age of 6, and music remained a major focus for the next seven decades of her life. She played for literally hundreds of community and school musicals and plays, wedding and funerals, and accompanied hundreds of students in recitals and music festivals. She began serving as the church organist of the First Methodist Church in Billings in 1946 and later continuing in that capacity at First Methodist Church in Powell. She also accompanied the Billings Symphony from 1955-1963.

She was an active member of the First Methodist Church, and in addition to her musical contributions, she was a Sunday School teacher and Bible School teacher and a member of several guilds and circles.

Once her children were all in school, she began a career at the Powell Hospital in 1967, becoming an accredited medical records technician. She served as the head of the medical records department from 1972 until her retirement in 1994. She was a member of the American Medical Records Association and the Wyoming Medical Records Association, serving as a director and president of the state association.

Her community involvement extended beyond music, church and career. She served on the Powell School Board from 1965-1972 and was active in PEO and AAUW, serving terms as local chapter president for both. Mary Alice was a Brownie scout leader, Jobs Daughter council leader and guardian, a charter member of Powell Fine Arts Club and a board member of the Rocky Mountain Manor. She was honored with the Jayettes Community Service Award in 1966, the Elks Distinguished Citizen Award in 1977, the Kiwanis Outstanding Community Service Award in 1986, the Wyoming Music Educators Association Distinguished Service Award in 2000 and was Wyoming Merit Mother of the Year in 1984.

Survivors include her five children, Brent (Cheryl) Johnson of Billings, Sarah Sumrall (Abner) of Jacksonville, Ore., Laurie Hanks (Robert) of Sheridan, Kyle Johnson (Mary) of Alpine, Mont., and David Johnson (Teresa) of Rapid City, S.D.; brother Dick (Lindal) Bridenbaugh of Oroville, Calif.; sister Thelma Showalter (Dick) of Rawlins; 14 grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her brother, Bob, in 1963; her husband, Merle, in 1984; and a daughter-in-law, Wendy, in 1991.

For those who wish, the family would appreciate memorials to the Billings Symphony, Deaconess Billings Clinic Foundation or the Northern Rockies Radiation Oncology Center.

Ballard Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.