Lucile Fern Short Johnson was born in 1919 in Idaho and grew up in the San Fernando Valley of California where she experienced a nurturing upbringing. She lived a happy military life with her husband, Harold, who treated her like a lady. When two of her five children had grown and embarked on lives of their own, she had her first opportunity to speak professionally. She gave a twenty-minute talk on the birth of Christ at an officers’ wives’ Christmas luncheon in Heidelberg, Germany. The commanding general’s wife liked the speech so much, she asked Lucile to be the keynote speaker for the Protestant Women of the Chapel Conference. Her speech was received with a standing ovation and Lucile found her niche. Her first speeches were to military audiences and she was so effective, the commander of the U.S. Army Forces in Europe created a staff position for her: Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Army Forces in Europe for Family Affairs.
In her seventies, she went back to college and focused on advanced sociology classes. Her studies expanded her understanding of the challenges families face, as did her experiences as she traveled the globe with her decorated colonel husband, raised her children largely by herself as he served in three wars, and held many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She became a sought-after speaker at Brigham Young University Know Your Religion and Education Week. She also penned several books: Sunny Side Up, Somebody Loves You, That We Might Have Joy, Enjoy Life’s Journey: Choosing Happiness Along the Way (with Arlene Bascom), Your Best Is Good Enough, Women of Christ: Be of Good Cheer!, and Legacy of Love (with JoAnn Jolley). Her talks were also available on tapes. Her messages of hope reached thousands.
After her passing on July 24, 2013, her children wrote:
- A Love Letter to Mom:
- Mom, you survived three wars (with your heroic companion of 67 years), birthed five children, lived on three continents, wrote six books, recorded a dozen tapes, and spoke to a million people. You shared many beautiful truths with the world. But, here's what we learned from you:
- To love fiercely, and tell people before it's too late.
- To be loyal, always.
- To enjoy life - one bite at a time.
- To laugh easily - with others and at yourself.
- To smile (and always wear lipstick).
- If a problem can be solved with money, it really isn't a problem.
- To be generous with your time, money, and heart.
- To love ourselves.
- And to never forget that God adores us.
- Mom, we know He adores us because you did. You taught it by precept and example. In a very conditional world you gave us pure and unconditional love.
- So, how do we thank you? We can’t. We can only love you in return.