Julia Morgan's original drawings for our Clubhouse, Courtesy of Cal Poly Archives

A GOOD LIFE - Reflections about Gerry Johnson by Gini Griffin

October 15, 2015 12:59 PM | Linda Wilson (Administrator)

Gerry Johnson has been a Monday Club member since 1963. Born and raised in San Jose, California, she is the child of immigrants from a small Croatian island off the Dalmatian Coast. Her father died when Gerry was only five years old.

In grade school Gerry distinguished herself winning elocution prizes and starring in the St. Joseph’s school play Cinderella. At Notre Dame High School she was a class treasurer, athletic director and vice-president. Early jobs included baby-sitting and cutting apricots. Gerry lied about her age, and at fourteen she was employed at Sears Roebuck in ‘Hosiery and Handbags.’ Wage: 47 ½ cents per hour. After one year of college she was promoted to the Store Manager’s Secretary; at twenty, again promoted to Personnel Manager. Honesty and hard work served her well.

Gerry met Fred Johnson at Sears. They married and had three children: Becky, Joe and Susie. When Fred was drafted during the Korean Conflict he was stationed for a time at Camp Roberts and they lived in Paso Robles. In 1961 the family moved to San Luis Obispo where Fred became Assistant Manager of the local Sears. He was later transferred and the family moved to Escondido. But their hearts belonged to San Luis Obispo. Back they came and opened their own store, the legendary ‘Johnson’s for Children.’ Gerry had been a “stay-at-home” mom until the store opened.

They opened the store, starting small and expanding over the years. With their combined retail experience, ‘Johnson’s for Children’ became the finest children’s retail store in the county. First located at 840 Monterey Street, renting from Mabel Dunklee, they later moved across the street and rented at 837 Monterey Street (at Chorro) from Jay Stream and Wayne Newton. The Johnsons also opened a second store in Bakersfield. All three children worked in the stores.

Gerry recalls fondly the buying trips to Los Angeles, taking each of her children as special “one-on-one” adventures, attending the theatre, ball games, and exploring the city when the buying was done. The family special trips continue and include frequent reunions. 

After more than 27 successful business years, Gerry sold the store at 837 Monterey Street Moondoggies Surf Shop now occupies the space. The beautiful exterior tiles commissioned by Gerry and created by local artist Bob Nichols, serve as an important link to Gerry, her family and ‘Johnsons for Children,’ and some will be used again in the new Chinatown Project.

In 1992 Sam Mosunic entered Gerry’s life. She was introduced to Sam by her brother at the Croatian Club in San Francisco, and their special relationship grew from their first dance. Dance, golf, sports events and travel are important parts of their lives.

Gerry joined TMC at the insistence of her first landlady, Mabel Dunklee. There she made many life-long friends, among them, Jean Ferrini, Joan Petersen, Eileen Lewis and Jean Seitz.  She has served on its Board of Directors as Corresponding Secretary, on numerous committees, and chaired the Bridge Section for decades. Her community service includes many volunteer hours on the Women’s Shelter board, the Jack House Committee, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Downtown Association, and the San Luis Obispo Republican Women’s Club.Wedding Portrai

Reflecting back on her career, especially the years when the store was new and her children small, Gerry says that she couldn’t have done it without the help of her mother, who lovingly stepped in to care for her grandchildren.  Ask Gerry about her life, health and kids: good, good and great! She enjoys her TMC membership and is thrilled with membership growth. Gerry has worked hard and created a wonderful life. 

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