On Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, Mollie Marie Johnson “Athena” McBride passed peacefully from this life to the next with her children by her side after a courageous six-year battle with Alzheimer’s.
Mollie was born on Aug. 20, 1938, in Holden, Utah, to Gerald and Myrl Johnson, the third of five daughters. She grew up in Holden and followed in her mother’s footsteps to become an accomplished musician. She was a talented pianist and singer.
She married Charles Patrick McBride on Valentine’s Day 1955 in the LDS Manti Temple. Mollie graduated from Millard High School and Snow College. She was creative and always lived life with a flair. She delivered her first son, Kevin, in Nuremberg, Germany, while Pat was serving on active military duty. Upon returning to the U.S., they had four more children while living in Scottsdale, Arizona and Fillmore, Utah.
She also lived in Ephraim and the Salt Lake area while going to college, raising a family and performing in musical and theatre productions. She remodeled her castle-looking home in Ephraim that was originally built in 1888. It was later honored and listed in the National Historic Register of Homes.
Pat and Mollie divorced in 1981. Mollie moved to Tampa, Florida, where she lived until returning to Utah in 2017. Athena became known and loved by the residents of Tampa Heights, an upscale neighborhood in Tampa. She became the first pioneer to buy and restore a century-old home there. Thirty years later, hundreds of others have followed her lead, which has turned Tampa Heights into one of the most successful revitalization projects in the country.
She loved playing one of her three organs with the windows open, and her neighbors would go on walks by her house just to hear her play. Upon entering her home, guests would be met by dozens of plants that she would meticulously water, feed and care for. Mollie also became a very skilled petitioner – spearheading signature campaigns all over the country for causes and initiatives for which she had a passion.
After spending the last chapter of her life in the Pointe Meadows senior care center in Lehi, Utah, she became a hit with her fellow residents as well as her caretakers. The family extends a special thank you to the entire team at Pointe Meadows – they took great care of Mom the last couple of years.
Whether you know her as Mollie, Athena, Nana, Grandma Mollie or just Mom, everyone is going to miss her. Although she is gone for now, until we meet again, Mollie’s influence and example will continue to shine on here in this life through her vast progeny of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Loving and decorating your home and yard, playing and singing good music, being strong in the face of adversity, being a great conversationalist, caring for yourself and others, providing kind words of encouragement and living a life of independence are all Mollie traits for which she will forever be known.
Mollie’s granddaughter Hanna Taylor recently had this to say about her Nana Mollie:
“I feel impressed to express what I have learned from her about life. She was a woman who was very full of hope and love. Her resilient example in times of adversity has served as a guide of inner strength and goodness during my own challenges. Her humor, laughter, kind words and listening ear have resounded in my soul the older I have gotten. Her bright smile and beautiful music have filled me with warmth and peace. We each have a place in the lives of our family members, and I am glad she has had and will still have a place in mine.”
Mollie is survived by five children: Kevin McBride (Emily), Darl McBride (Andrea), Teresa Eklof (Ken), Suzanne Ruedy (Mark), and Jerri Holowka (Frank); 32 grandchildren, and 50 great grandchildren. Mollie was preceded in death by her mother and father (Meryl and Gerald) and her four sisters, Kaye, Rachel, Geraldine and Mary.
The family will honor Mollie at a private family service. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Alzheimer’s Association at Alzheimers.org.