Louise Malia Johnson
Louise Malia Johnson, a longtime resident and environmental activist on Sanibel, died in November after a long fight with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 92.
Louise was born and raised in Syracuse, NY with her two sisters and two brothers, living on the south side of the city in sometimes difficult circumstances. She attended Syracuse University on a scholarship, where she met her husband of 43 years, Arthur, and went on to earn a BA in English, an MA in library science and a PhD of arts. She later taught English at Alfred University in the southern tier of New York state.
It was when Louise and her family moved to Sanibel in 1977, that she found her mission for the second half of her life. She volunteered at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation guiding nature walks and fell in love with the flora and fauna of the island.
Starting in the eighties and lasting into the 2000s, Louise served for 13 years on the Sanibel wildlife committee, seven years on the Planning Commission and on the City Council as vice mayor and mayor. While some long-time residents may remember her most as one of the first female mayors of the island, she felt her most meaningful impact came on the Planning Commission, trying to protect and preserve Sanibel’s unique environment.
In 2012, Louise received the Rachel Carson award from the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education for her long-time service to the community of Sanibel. She volunteered with many organizations on the island, including her local church, Zonta International, and a variety of environmental organizations.
Louise Johnson is survived by her daughter Deborah, her son Steven and his wife Karena, her granddaughter Hannah, as well as nieces and nephews. The family asks that you remember Louise for her love of Sanibel’s beaches, Ding Darling Refuge, and the special people of the island who strive to keep it as natural as possible. Contributions can be made to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.