On October 25, 2019, Jill Johnson woke up in the arms of Jesus. In August of 2017, Jill began her battle with squamous cell carcinoma cancer. She fought with a determination that defined Jill’s life and never actually gave up but rather came to a place of acceptance. Jill was born on July 8, 1950 in Pomona, Ca. She graduated from Santa Barbara High in 1968. Jill has spent the last 46 years calling the Central Valley home.
Jill and James owned a goat/cattle dairy from 1977 to 2000. Although Jill was the pinnacle of class and sophistication, she never shied away from hard work and manual labor. Jill was always willing to share her memories that provided endless laughs as we pictured her up to her waist shoveling cow manure especially on rainy days. On March 17, 2001, she married Fred Johnson and spent the remainder of her life managing her assets and generously giving to numerous charities.
Jill loved nature and did not even know it until Fred showed it to her. She was always too busy with life to stop and appreciate the beauty God has given us. What really would send her into ecstasy were the countless rivers and creeks that her and Fred would venture to and be in awe at the splendor during the rainy season as the water would come down the mountains in tiny little waterfalls.
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1. She got it! Jill’s greatest love was Jesus. Through her battle with cancer, she learned to truly receive Christ’s unconditional love not because of anything she did or could do but simply because of His love for her. She found the freedom, and realized she no longer felt she had to earn His love. She learned to depend on Christ for every detail of her day, and to let go of her own control. Her greatest desire in her final days was that we would all “Get It”. That we would finally understand the unconditional love Christ has for each of us and how much each one of us matters to Him.
Jill loved her church family at New Life Community Church. She would offer the hope and acceptance that she found at New Life to everyone she encountered by inviting them to attend. She was actively involved in the mission’s board, served at D St. shelter, and always had a special place in her heart for the Chinese pilots that attended English Corner.
Jill was the paradigm of friendship. She loved unconditionally, accepting you for who you were and never passing judgement. Don’t let that be mistaken for her not being willing to offer advice and guidance but even when she did, she loved you no matter if you chose to take her advice or not. Jill was a safe haven, you could be completely yourself and openly share everything and you never had to question her loyalty to your privacy. You were extremely blessed if you were lucky enough to call Jill your friend.
Watch over me, my angel, I love you.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Katherine I. and William V. Butler. She is survived by her son Nathan T. Espinola and his father James Espinola, her brothers Gary Butler of Stockbridge, Georgia and Brian Butler of Glendale, CA, and her husband Fred Johnson.
A celebration of Life for Jill Johnson will be Saturday, November 9, 2019, 10:00 A.M. at New Life Community Church, 2124 First Street, Atwater, CA 95301.
In Lieu of flower’s please make a donation to the Mission Fund at New Life Community Church, 2124 1st Street, Atwater, CA 95301.
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