Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Pamela Johnson, 1926-2016

PAMELA Frances Johnson was born in 1926 to Mary and Louis Rose, the youngest of four

PAMELA Frances Johnson was born in 1926 to Mary and Louis Rose, the youngest of four siblings — Joan, Pauline, Louis and Pamela.

Their father, Louis, had completed his army service and the family settled in Henley where Pamela spent her childhood during the relatively peaceful years between the wars.

On leaving Caxton House School, she took a job with Bushnell’s photographic studio in the town and learned the rudiments of photography.

Pam and her sisters were very involved in the Henley Operatic Society, appearing in many plays at the Kenton Theatre.

When Pam could manage to get hold of the family phono-player (as all the family loved to play it) she would take “His Master’s Voice” aboard a hire boat and row along the Thames.

“Here comes Pam Rose,” the residents would exclaim from the balcony of their riverside homes as Pam and the strains of Frank Sinatra slipped not very silently by.

Pam’s love of music and ballroom dancing (she was an avid fan of Strictly Come Dancing) she retained for as long as she lived.

During the Second World War, Pam enlisted with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she drove ambulances, often at night and alone in unfamiliar territory with no lights or direction posts.

At the end of the war Pam met Bernard Hudson, son of the Henley police chief superintendent Charles and his wife May. Bernard, who had two brothers, Tony and Brian, had been in the Fleet Air Arm during the war.

Pam and Bernard were married in 1946 before along came Nigel and then Fiona.

Bernard worked at Rolfes Garage in Station Road and then took over White Hill Service Station.

Pam began working for Messrs Simmons & Sons, the long-established Henley estate agents and chartered surveyors who are still around today.

Pam worked hard and made her way into managing the property leasing department.

This was around 1971 when Simmons & Sons, as land agents, were aware of how unpopular letting was and when tenure was more assured.

But times were changing and there were surplus cottages belonging to landowners which needed inhabitants and Pam was good at finding suitable tenants.

Jim Coles, one of the managing partners of Simmons & Sons and now a consultant, wished to acknowledge that Pam was categorically the person who was totally respected regarding the letting of property, noting that Pam was one of the few who understood “leased property”.

Nigel, meanwhile, was now working with his father at White Hill Service Station and Fiona had taken a job in Geneva.

Pam and Bernard were visiting Fiona when Bernard suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage. He was only 43.

Losing Bernard was such a  profound loss to Pam that continuing her work at Simmons & Sons was important.

It was after some time she found a soulmate in a work colleague, chartered surveyor Gordon Johnson, who went on to become a junior partner at Simmons & Sons.

Marriage followed and they took up golf and attended many dances together.

Both Pam and Gordon were keen supporters of Henley Royal Regatta and particularly Leander Club.

In 1985, Pam and Gordon retired, upped sticks and moved to Hope Cove in South Devon, making many friends and playing at Thurlestone Golf Club where Pam became ladies’ captain.

They then moved to Cornwall to be with John and Margaret Briggs, friends from Henley, and joined Budock Vean Golf Club, near  Falmouth. In 1999 Pam was invited to captain the ladies and also achieved her second hole in one.

In May 2010, Gordon passed away at home in his 90th year.

Pam missed Gordon and the companionship she had enjoyed most of her life and, despite the efforts of Nigel and Fiona and moving to a fabulous flat overlooking Gyllingvase Bay in Falmouth, she was not happy.

In 2012 Pam went to stay with Fiona in Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, initially for several months.

She seemed to enjoy the walking, particularly of William, Fiona’s 15-year-old lurcher, and the sense of  freedom.

However, towards the end of the first year she suffered a stroke. Fiona was unable to provide the care her mother needed and she found a place at Balhousie, Huntly, where the staff were on hand to attend to her every need.

Pam enjoyed a wonderful 90th birthday party at Balhousie with the Huntly Quines singing her favourite songs and, most importantly and joyously, saw her son Nigel, niece Diana and nephew Paul arrive unannounced for the occasion.

Pam passed away peacefully in the evening of Monday, April 4.

Pam Johnson, the end of an era — never without her lipstick and usually wearing something pink — she was always ready to smile and laugh, always bright and bubbly — she knew the meaning of fun.

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