Concordia Experience

Legacy of Ruth Ann Johnson

Concordia University Chicago gives thanks to God for the life and faith of Ruth Ann Johnson, our former first lady, who died inruth ann johnson the faith on Monday, April 8.

She was a beloved wife and provided great support to President Emeritus John F. Johnson in his tenure at CUC and is warmly remembered for her role at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and Concordia University, St. Paul. Ruth Ann’s strong faith in Christ was evident in the Church in many ways including extensive work with Concordia Publishing House and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.

Memorial Contributions

Memorial contributions may be made in support of the students of Concordia University Chicago through the General Scholarship Fund. Please use our online giving form for a convenient way to give. If you prefer, your check, made payable to Concordia University Chicago, may be sent to the CUC Foundation, 7400 Augusta St, River Forest, IL 60305. Please note “Ruth Ann Johnson memorial” in the memo line.

Memorial Service

A memorial service recognizing the faith and legacy of Ruth Ann was held on Thursday, May 2. The event is now available to stream on demand.


Ruth Ann Johnson was born in Oklahoma. She was the loving wife of Rev. Dr. John F. Johnson for 47 years, as well as a devoted mother and grandmother.

As Concordia University Chicago’s first lady from 2004-2013, she is best remembered for her warm, outgoing engagement with all members of the campus community. While at CUC, she was integral to the formation and success of the University’s Community Awards Banquet, which recognized the volunteerism and service of both students and leaders in the surrounding communities. She also held an integral role as an advisor to the University’s 150th Anniversary planning committee and was instrumental in the publication of commemorative anniversary book. Drawing on her publishing background, she also contributed to the Forester magazine as a contributing author.

Ruth Ann was always the most proud of CUC’s students, with whom she frequently interacted. “To me, it’s remarkable that they make servant leadership a part of their lives without even knowing it,” she said. “If there is a call for help, our students go."

Prior to arriving at CUC, Ruth Ann’s dedication to the Church and her Lord was tireless. She acted as a contracts administrator for the national Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML), was an appointed member of the LWML board of directors and served as chairman of the LWML Endowment Committee. In 2004, she served as a voting (lay) delegate to Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) convention, and to the 2003 Missouri district convention.

Ruth Ann formerly was a community relations consultant for Radio Station KFUO and was an executive at Concordia Publishing House (CPH) from 1976-1989. At CPH, she was manager of the product development department, was staff person for The Commission on Church Literature and managed the contracts, rights and permissions department.

During the Johnson's tenure at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, she served as advisor to the Concordia Seminary (Student) Women's Association and was co-founder of the Seminary's Campus Landscape Program. Ruth Ann was an ex-officio member of the Seminary Guild Board of Directors and Projects Committee. As an engaged community member, she served on the Clayton, MO Strategic Issues Committee and the Metrolink Advisory Committee. She was also a charter member of the Clayton Housing Council and a member of the Clayton Landscape Committee.

Concordia-Chicago rejoices that Ruth Ann now rests in Christ, awaiting the Resurrection, and we give thanks to Him for her faithful pilgrimage among us.