Alice Perry Johnson was born Sept. 5, 1931, in Newark, N.J. She passed away Feb. 26 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md.
Alice was orphaned at an early age and along with her two older sisters, Hazel and Hattie, spent most of her childhood in the home of her foster grandparents “Pop” and “Nana” Smith and their two sons, Ralph and Bobby Smith.
She attended elementary and middle school in East Orange, N.J., and graduated from East Orange High School in 1950.
When she was 18, Alice moved to Washington, D.C., to attend school and work for the federal government. At age 21 she was sent to Liberia to work as a secretary for the U.S. Foreign Service. She made history as the youngest person – at that time- to ever be granted an overseas assignment by the Foreign Service.
She immediately fell in love with Liberia and everything Liberian. Towards the end of her tour of duty there, she met her future sister-in-law, the late Dr. Marie Brown, who strongly urged Alice to contact her brother, medical resident C. Archibald Johnson, upon her return to New Jersey.
Alice heeded this suggestion and gave Archie a call. They met and fell in love after a three-month courtship and married in 1956. Their marriage lasted for 54 years until Archie predeceased her 10 months prior to her passing.
Alice and Archie lived in New York City until he completed his residency. Shortly thereafter in 1959, the couple relocated back to Liberia with their two small sons, Larry and Wayne.
In June of 1967, Alice and Archie’s daughter, Patricia, was born in Monrovia, Liberia.
In her first book, One Step Ahead, Alice wrote a collection of poetry and prose just for Liberian children in order to supplement the western literature being taught in Liberian schools at that time. She also personally and anonymously financed the education of numerous Liberian children.
Alice was a member of the Society of Liberian Writer, the International Women’s Club of Liberia and the Women’s Auxiliary of the Medical and Dental Association. After raising her children, she once again worked for the U.S. Foreign Service. For seven years during the 1980s, she worked in the consulate section at the American embassy in Liberia.