Memorial Spaceflights

Nancy L. Johnson

"I am where I wish to be"
1925 - 1998

"May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."

-An Irish Blessing

Nancy Lewis Johnson, known as Tracy, died suddenly en route to Antarctica aboard ship in the South Atlantic. Though she was so far away from family and friends at the time of her death, we all understood the absolute perfection of such a passing. A lover of world travel, sparked by an unquenchable curiosity, she and her late husband, Dick, had visited countries on six continents. She rode elephants in North Thailand, circled Mount Everest in a plane, and even traveled to the North Pole. She had read Huckleberry Finn out loud in English in a Beijing Park, had her anti-diarrhea pills stolen from her hut by baboons in Kenya, and showed courage when her husband suffered a heart attack at the summit of Machu Picchu. Only Antarctica remained unexplored.

Born on April 23, 1925 in Philadelphia to Wynne Rettger and Harmon Lewis, Tracy was raised in Westchester County, New York. During her childhood, her father, the president of the Alcoa Steamship Company, took her on trips to South America and the Caribbean. In her teens, she christened a ship in San Francisco. In 1946 she graduated as valedictorian from the University of Wisconsin, an honor her mother had also shared, and soon married J. Richard Johnson, M.D., a specialist in chest disease. After living through Dick's nearly four-year bout with tuberculosis, they settled in the Shorewood Hills neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin from 1957 until 1966, when they moved to Minneapolis.

Throughout her life, she marveled at the complexity of the world, sought to know all she could about both current events and history of the places she visited, and always maintained an open mind and heart. Wherever she went, and even at home, she insisted on a View; to her, the View was perspective, and insight - both of which she had aplenty.

She is survived by a brother, Harmon; a sister, Read; three sons and their spouses: David, a clinical psychologist in New Haven, Connecticut; Rick, a professor of medicine in Houston, Texas; and Todd, chief financial officer of a medical device company in Minneapolis; six grandchildren, and numerous friends, each of whom will miss her wit, grace, and loving kindness.

Tracy's love of adventure expressed itself in a desire to travel to outer space, and even once to the proposal to have her ashes sent up in a Fourth of July fireworks display. The Celestis journey will be the culminating event in her long life of travel, and we know that from up there, as she looks down upon the earth in all its glory, she will marvel at the View.

The Family and Friends of Nancy Lewis Johnson

Sing me a song
A canticle of life,
For I am leaving land
And taking space to wife.

Into the rising wind
I'll shout the ecstasy.
Echoes will answer back,
I am where I wish to be.

- Wynne Rettger Lewis

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