Clevonease Williams Johnson was born March 25, 1932 in Monroe, Louisiana to Jessie and Eliza Williams. At the age of 6, she joined True Vine Baptist Church. She attended all her public school years in Monroe before furthering her education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Clevonease, along with her three children, relocated to Santa Barbara in 1961. In August, of that same year, she joined Second Baptist Church, where she served faithfully until its demise. She was a member of the Sanctuary Choir, Deaconess Board, Finance Committee, and Trustee Board; also served as Chairperson of the Scholarship Committee, Director of Christian Education, Sunday School teacher and Superintendent, as well as, Youth Department Director. She also took it upon herself to organize “A Day of Praise and Fellowship: 100 Women in White”. In 1962, she married Matthew Johnson, who preceded her in death.
She resumed the journey of furthering her education by attending Santa Barbara City College where she earned an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education in 1972. Determined to extend her knowledge, she earned a Bachelors of Arts degree from University of California, Santa Barbara and a Teaching Credential from Pacific Oaks University in Pasadena, CA.
In 1966, she began her teaching career at the Head Start Porgram of the Santa Barbara City Schools. While there, she developed, introduced, and implemented certain curriculum to enhance the program. In 1972, due to her outstanding performance and leadership skills, she was promoted to Head Teacher of the Santa Barbara City College Children’s Center, a position she held for 20 years until her retirement in 1992.
As a dedicated member of her community and strong advocate for children’s education, her work was “just getting started”. Upon retirement, she worked as a substitute teacher in many local early childhood development schools. She served as Lincoln Elementary School’s PTA Vice President (1964-1966), Franklin Elementary School’s PTA Secretary (1970-1971), as well as a very active member within both Santa Barbara Junior High School and Santa Barbara Senior High Schoool’s PTA. Her community work also included being a member of the Board of Directors of the California Association for the Education of Young Children; while on this board, she also served as chairperson of both the Membership Committee and Multicultural Awareness committee; she was once President of the Tri-County Association for the Education of Young People (1980-1982), member of the Board of Directors for the California Youth Authority (1981-1985), treasurer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee (1987-1990), Vice President of the Endowment for Youth Program (1996-1998), President and Secretary of the George Washington Carver Scholarship Club (1978-1995), and was also a member of the local NAACP chapter. In her later years, she volunteered at Catholic Charities.
Whatever you needed, she would be exactly that and more. She lived her life righteously; always taking heed to the voice of God and His will. She often encouraged those she knew, even strangers, to be a blessing to others any chance they got. She was a living testament of Matthew 5:16 – for her light shined so bright. She was always ready to lend a helping hand, give a listening ear, and fill every necessary gap she could. Her legacy is filled with unconditional love; faith to weather any storm; standing as a tall pillar of light in such a dark world; being intentional and genuine in all things; and most of all, the wisdom to lean on God, for He knows all things and makes no mistakes.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Jessie and Eliza Williams-Alexander; her husband, Matthew Johnson; sister, Jessie Lee Beal; and son, Jason Oatis. She leaves to cherish her memory three daughters, George Etta Milam, Bernadette Larson, and Carla Marcinkus; 5 grandchildren, Malcolm Milam, Aaron Milam, Matthew Oatis, Rachel Oatis and Karina Dixon Guron. 4 great-grandchildren, Da’Von Milam, Justin Milam, Mya Milam, and Elijah Milam; her 8 siblings, Wanda Lambert, Vergie Scott, Debra Alexander Reed, Annie Booker, Carl Williams, Alfred Williams, Wayne Williams, and Michael Alexander; as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, many adopted children, and all those who she took under her wing.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, July 30, 2022 at 1 p.m., at Family Baptist Church of Carpinteria, located at 5026 Foothill Rd, Carpinteria, CA 93013.