Ann Junine Johnson Rathkamp, 96, passed away peacefully on the morning of December 20, 2023. She was preceded in death by her husband of more than 68 years, the Rev. Hugo M. “Tex” Rathkamp. Mrs. Rathkamp was a Nebraska native, born on the family farm near Tekamah on April 9, 1927, the fourth of seven children of Henry Bayard Johnson and Gladys Magdalene (Wesgaard) Johnson.
When her older brother Keith enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, she learned to drive a tractor in the fields, helped care for the farm animals, and even learned how to make a haystack. There were stories of Sioux Indians riding their horses through the farm, and of war chants – the family had a large collection of beautiful arrowheads. There was a smokehouse, a springhouse, an orchard, and a special walnut shelling tool. Other memories included when the National Rural Electric Cooperative cabled their part of Nebraska, and electricity miraculously came on in their pre-wired home. Ann also recalled being amazed by neon light, first seen at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. Her most frightening memory was of the family farmhouse burning to the ground on a very hot summer night when she was just five years old. Fortunately, their dog, a collie, woke everyone with his barking, and all escaped the fire. However, her brand-new red shoes, set out for the first day of school, were lost. The vision of her mother running back into the burning house to save a drawer full of old family photos never left her.
Ann’s education began in a one room schoolhouse in rural Tekamah followed by graduation from Tekamah high school and a degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She became a fifth-grade school teacher, and was teaching in Fremont, Nebraska when she met her husband, who was completing Lutheran seminary studies there. After their marriage at the Riverside Baptist Church near Tekamah on May 2, 1953, they lived in Texas and Nebraska, where Tex served Lutheran churches as parish Pastor. She assisted him with sermon illustrations gleaned from her voracious reading, and was active in many areas of the church, including as a Sunday and Bible School teacher and self-taught pianist and organist. Following retirement in 1991, she accompanied her husband and traveled the world on the Holland America and Cunard cruise lines, Tex serving as the Protestant Chaplain, and Ann providing the music for the church services.
Later in life, she became interested in the English genealogy of her father, and discovered his ancestors arrived on the shores of Massachusetts in the 1600’s. Among them were a Soldier and a Chaplain who served in the Revolutionary War, Congregationalist ministers, Justices of the Peace, and early Harvard graduates. Ann is a member of the Israel Putnam Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Wenham, MA, and of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants in Hingham, MA.
She is survived by her daughter, Grace Patricia Rathkamp of Mount Pleasant, SC, son Paul Johnson Rathkamp (Laura) of Danville, CA, seven grandchildren, brother, Mark Bayard (Ruth) Johnson of Parker, CO, and many nieces and nephews, to whom she was known as “Aunt Jen”. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, daughter Sandra Junine Luchsinger, brother Keith Charles Johnson, and four sisters: Marcia Marie Bliss, Dr. Norma Grace Mueller, Mary Frances Langren, and Joyce Louise Allely.
The family wishes to express its gratitude for the loving care provided to Ann by Brookdale Chambrel in Williamsburg, VA, and Franke at Seaside in Mount Pleasant, SC.
Memorial services will be held on Friday, February 16 at 1 p.m. at Williamsburg United Methodist Church in Williamsburg, VA, Rev. Dave Rochford officiating, followed by interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Williamsburg.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Endowment Fund of the Williamsburg United Methodist Church, the American Heart Association, or the National Audubon Society. Bucktrout of Williamsburg is handling the funeral arrangements.
Williamsburg United Methodist Church - Directions
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Williamsburg, VA 23188