“Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” Peter Strople

May and June are big months for moving on and last times. School ends, kids advance a grade, maybe graduate. Kids look forward to the next big step in their life – moms thankful they survived another year, excited to see their children take those next big steps, all while working through the emotions of so many last times. This is especially true for those moms who graduate their kids. Last concerts. Last dances. Last report cards. So many times of celebration mixed with tears as we let go and say goodbye.

It was at one of those last times that I truly understood and appreciated the legacy of Nancy Johnson. Nancy’s girls are dancers. Nancy and dance have been a staple in the dance community for so many years now we forget there was a before! Nancy’s last dancing daughter had her last high school dance performance June 6. As I sat in the audience I thought of the impact Nancy has made on this dance group and the culture she helped create. My earliest memories of Nancy are at every dance event, working with props, setting up, tearing down, selling tickets – doing whatever was needed. Sometimes alone, sometimes her husband was no doubt willingly recruited to help and as her daughters grew older, sometimes they helped too. I didn’t know who she was at first; I only knew that she was always present, helpful and kind. I admired her dedication and support for not only her girls but all of the dancers. And their families.

As I sat in the auditorium watching dance after dance I heard behind me a constant voice of support. “You can do it! Great job! You nailed it!” Clapping. Cheering. Unconditional support. I started to really understand the impact this woman has made. A culture of support, love and family that is evident with this group is in large part because of the examples set by Nancy. I thought about how cultures are created and how tone is set as a group forms over time. How one woman can innately influence customs and attitudes of social groups passing through the entire group resulting in a continuing body of belief in how we should act towards one another. I admire Nancy Johnson. She reminds me that I want to be a better woman. She reminds me that my job as a mom and grandma are the most important jobs I will ever have. She reminds me that what one woman positively models can become infectious with others.

Seems like a good time to say thanks to Nancy Johnson for leaving us all a little bit better for having touched our lives.

Submitted by Ray Ann Kilen
June 10, 2021