December 26, 1940 – September 14, 2021

Dixie Ann Johnson, formerly of Stratford, IA, passed away Tuesday, September 14, 2021, due to stroke-related dementia. Since having a stroke in 2013, she has lived at Eastern Star Home in Boone, IA.

Dixie was born to Clarence “Dick” and Mildred (Frakes) Gabrielson on December 26, 1940 in Boone, IA. She grew up in Boone, Lehigh, and graduated from Callender High School. She skipped a grade in elementary, loved HS basketball, playing piano, and graduated valedictorian of her class before heading to the University of Iowa where she graduated with an elementary education degree. She enjoyed attending Border Plain one-room-school reunions and her longtime friends there.

While teaching at Page Elementary School in Boone, she met a neighbor of her parents in Stratford, Marvin E. Johnson, and within 3 months they were married. Other than the first few months in Boone, they lived in Stratford where she enjoyed being the wife of a gravel truck driver and farmer. She was a stay-at-home mom while her children were young, but continued her vocation by substitute teaching, tutoring many children during the summer, and teaching GED classes.

Dixie served on the school board until 1975 when she began teaching 4th grade at Stratford Elementary School, retiring in 1990. Her students meant the world to her and she saved many of the gifts they gave her through the years.

Dixie and Marvin were very proud of and involved in the Stratford Community. She promoted the ideals and activities of the American Legion Auxiliary, was one of the first girls’ Little League coaches, band booster president, and worked extensively with the activities of Calvary United Methodist Church.

But for all of these jobs and activities, Dixie will probably best be remembered as an entertainer who traveled throughout Iowa and the surrounding states to bring music to so many communities. She played organ and piano for hundreds of church services, Christmas programs, weddings, and funerals. She taught piano lessons and played the accordion with multiple bands including the Polka Dots, Dixie and the Dots, & Stratford Rhythm Ramblers — even releasing a record in the 1980s with the Polka Dots. She accompanied dozens of students at small group contests, children & adult choirs, wrote and led Polka worship services, entertained at nursing and county homes for decades, performed on parade floats, and in the sweltering sun to entertain at multiple town celebrations. She truly loved making music.

Dixie was preceded in death by Marvin in 2007, her parents and two brothers in infancy (Neal and Michael).

Left to remember her musical life are her children: Gwen (Bob) Hoffmann of Iowa City, IA, and Matthew (Nancy) Johnson of Hugoton, KS; Grandchildren: Whitney (Ranen) Spies; Andrew (Kalyani) Hoffmann; Elizabeth, Sarah, and Rebecca Johnson; siblings: Phyllis Wertz of Stuart, IA; Gary (Caroline) Gabrielson of Lexington, MA; Portia Stuckey of Mesquite, NV, and sister-in-law Julie Johnson of Jewell, IA, as well as many nieces, nephews, and friends.

Words cannot express the families’ gratitude to the staff at Eastern Star Home for their friendship and care.

Services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at Calvary United Methodist Church in Stratford, IA. Interment will be at South Marion Cemetery following the funeral service. Visitation with the family present to greet friends will be from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 17, 2021 at Calvary United Methodist Church in Stratford.

Remember Dixie by purchasing an instrument for someone or paying for their music lessons. Memorials can be given to the Calvary United Methodist Church or Eastern Star Masonic Home.

Schroeder-Stark-Welin Funeral Home is assisting the family. Online condolences can be left at www.schroederfuneral.com.