Rae Georgia Johnson McMillian
Rae Georgia Johnson was born November 8, 1932 to her father, Raymond George Johnson and her mother, Opal Marie West. She was born in Davenport, IA and later moved to Pensacola, FL.
She is preceded in death by her grandmother, Hattie Stutson West; father, Raymond George Johnson; mother, Opal Marie West; and sister, Norma Marie Johnson Deuser.
She is survived by her husband, Arthur Johnson McMillian III; her son: Arthur Johnson McMillian IV (Pat) - his wife, Michelle and his kids, Patrick McMillian, Leslie McMillian, Arthur McMillian V, Elaina McMillian, and Zachery McMillian; her son: Michael Arthur McMillian; her daughter: Radonna Creveling (McMillian) - her kids, Melisha Lewis, Elizabeth Deutsch and her husband Josh Deutsch, Donnie Archer his wife Rebecca; her son, Andrew Don McMillian and his kids Andrea McMillian, Cody McMillian and Haley McMillian, her son: Douglas John McMillian and his wife Suzanne and his kids, Shelby McMillian and Jealastic, Jesse Douglas and PJ, Noah McMillian, McKenzie McMillian, John Smith and Benji McMillian; also survived by nephew, Jay Deuser and Helen; niece, Carrie Meadows and Robert and many many more grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great-grandchildren, cousins, nephews and nieces.
Rae Georgia Johnson was born the second and last child of Raymond George Johnson and Opal Marie West Johnson, in Davenport, IA on November 8th, 1932. (The same day President Roosevelt was elected). She had one sibling: a sister named Norma Marie Johnson. During the depression, Rae’s father opened a repair shop. It was so successful that eventually it covered one half a city block. When Rae was just 5 years old, her parents divorced. Rae, Norma and Opal went to live with Opal’s grandmother, Hattie. Hattie developed terminal cancer and died. Rae’s sister and mom were working, and Rae was only in the third grade. Her mother deemed Rae too young to spend so much time alone (mostly after school), so she put Rae in St Vincent’s Catholic Home. Rae had been there less than a year when her father passed away.
St. Vincent’s was primarily an orphanage. Rae’s mom would visit every weekend no matter what. During her stay at the orphanage, Rae developed pneumonia many times. She tells us the blankets were just too thin. She even had scarlet fever at one point and had to be quarantined in a separate cottage on the grounds. Her mom could visit but couldn’t go passed the rail for fear of contracting the disease. As she grew up there, she said the nuns were nice but strict. At meals no one could talk, so the girls learned sign language. (Mom taught us to sign the alphabet when we were kids also). She developed a hunger for music, and she was taught to play the piano. This stayed with her for the rest of her life. Rae stayed at the orphanage until she finished the seventh grade.
In her teen years Rae loved all things cars! She was 17 when she began racing. The legal age for stock car racers was 18, so her mom signed to give her permission to drive. This made her the youngest stock car driver with the Southeast Stock Car Championship Racing Association!
Later mom met a guy named Albert Daniel Streeter. She went on to marry him. He moved them to Atlanta. Rae became pregnant and had a son named Patrick Alan Streeter. But Rae’s husband became abusive and she kicked him out. He was later killed in a motorcycle accident. Rae’s sister had also married and had a son named Troy. Her marriage ended also, and Rae and Norma moved together with their sons.
The Air Force Base located near Atlanta started a Civil Air patrol. They were responsible for the whole southeast United States. There was a huge room with tiered seats where members sat answering phone calls from all over the south telling them of planes flying through the area. At one end of the room there was a large clear board. It was Rae’s job to do the sketching of locations of area planes.
She stood behind the board and had to sketch backwards for those looking at the board from the front. Then Sputnik happened and the Space race was on! That put an end to the radar with the Civil Air Patrol. Rae was given a metal for the hours she worked with the Patrol. Rae also modeled some during this time and when Pat was 4, two of her modeling friends decided to take a trip to Pensacola Beach, FL.
All three made a pact that everyone had a date, or no one would go out. On the first day at the beach Rae’s two friends were strolling down the beach when they were met by two lifeguards. The men asked them out and they explained that they had a third girlfriend (Rae) and that they all pledged to go out together. So, the men told them they had another lifeguard buddy for her. Don (Arthur Johnson McMillian III) and Rae agreed to go on a blind date. They hit it off right from the start. They went out nearly every night Rae was in town. Then Rae left and went back to Atlanta. Rae and Don wrote each other for a week or so. He went to Atlanta to meet Rae’s family. Rae, Norma and Opal all lived together at that time. They treated him like a king. Unknown to Don, while he was in Atlanta; his mother and brother rented and furnished an apartment for them as a wedding surprise. He asked her to marry him several times before she said yes, and he whisked her away to Pensacola. (Dad notes that he always admired how brave she was to pick up everything with a small child and move to an unfamiliar town.) Don and his family fell in love with Rae and her son, Pat. Don asked if he could adopt him. Everyone was in agreement and Patrick Alan Streeter became Arthur Johnson McMillian IV. And the family was started.
Rae went on to have 4 more children: Mike, Radonna, Andy and Doug.
Rae and Don’s love and family grew. One-night Don had a nightmare - it was a warning to get back into church which he heeded. The family now lived on 57th Avenue and were in the Little Flower parish. They put their children in Little Flower School and Rae volunteered to play the organ at church. (Dad bought her a piano and she played all the time at home. She had never lost her love to play while in St. Vincent’s) She worked with a lady name Jeri Silva and was soon the head organist.
She organized a group of teens/college kids and started a “guitar mass”. Her group became very good. A Navy Chaplain heard the group and asked if they could make a recording for the boys in the South Pacific Destroyer Fleet. She took her group to Papa Don’s recording studio and made the record. She was thanked many times by the Navy for this recording.
The family moved to Fortuna Street. Rae and Don started a hobby making jewelry and that advanced for Rae into macramé’ - at first just bracelets and small necklaces. This evolved into huge wall hangings which she sold at craft shows. The larger pieces caught the attention of interior decorators, some as far away as California. This money helped make ends meet for the large family.
The biggest part of Rae’s life was being a wife and mother. She excelled at this, as she did everything she attempted. Her life consisted of raising, feeding and loving her family. She had a way of making each child feel like they were her Special Child. Once when she had to go into the hospital (which she did often in our younger years), she gave us all a ring and told us it was a special ring and whenever we were missing her, just talk to her in the ring. Tell her how our day was or tell her what our worries were, and she would be listening to it all through her special ring. Once our family was sort of bickering a lot as children do, so Rae-Mom told us to start getting ready for school that she had a surprise for us. After Don-Dad left for work, she told us to get into our beach clothes!! She bought us kites and we spent the entire day playing hooky! Rae loved her kids and even her kid’s friends. She loved when her house was full and noisy and chaotic with kids. Many of her kid’s friends also called her Mom. She had many who are now adults still love her.
Time marched on and Rae and Don moved to Grande Lagoon. Don was a CPA and the family money, although stretched, still afforded little luxuries. The Parish changed to Holy Spirit Parish. Msgr. James Amos asked Rae to play the organ at church and she agreed. She soon had a choir together and continued her ministry in music. At this time, she also joined the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and held every office in the organization. She played many conventions and nearly every Catholic church from Pensacola to Tallahassee. The Bishop asked Rae to write a history book about the churches in Pensacola. She spent 7 years researching and completed the book.
True to her spunky ways, Rae rode a motorcycle on and off until she was 50. She held several jobs when the children were older to help make ends meet. Rae and Don eventually bought a flower shop, it was called Rae’s Bouquets, most all the kids worked in it at some point. Then Rae and Don sold the shop and went traveling. They were able to experience many exciting sites, one in particular was The Great Smokey Mountains at a place called Deep Creek. There they became camp hosts. Rae especially liked greeting people and making them feel welcome. Rae always made everyone feel welcome wherever she was. Rae and Don were at this campground for quite some time. When they were ready to move on, the campground even gave them a Ranger hat as appreciation for all their hard work. They were both greatly missed by the rangers there at Deep Creek.
Don’s eyes began to worsen, and the travels stopped. Rae and Don moved back to Pensacola and “docked” their travel trailer in Andy’s backyard. Later they moved to a double-wide trailer on Gladiola Drive. This would be her final address. Rae and Don continued small excursions to visit children, but just in their car - no more travel trailer. Over the course of their years together Rae and Don made many close and wonderful friends. As the years went by Don’s eyesight became worse and Rae’s memory loss was becoming more apparent. So, Don became her memory and Rae became his eyes. They went on for many years like this until Rae had a major stroke that virtually took all her memory.
For a while Don struggled because Rae would “escape “out the door when Don would leave the room to go do something and Rae would head out the front door. Once when Don got back into the room, Rae had made it 4 blocks down the road. Barely being able to see her Don went after her to bring her back inside. She started yelling “Help!” Luckily the neighbors knew the condition of Rae and did not call the police on Don. Once she even managed to get the keys and get to the car before Don got outside. He ran to the car, opened the passenger door and got in just in time. She headed down the road while Don talked her into stopping before the main highway. She did turn around to go back home but not before taking out a speed limit sign and denting a neighbor’s back bumper (while it was parked). Don would go to bed and find Rae “sleeping”. Only she was just pretending to sleep, the fact that she had on her full clothing, shoes and purse in hand tipped him off the something was afoot. So, he slept some nights in a chair blocking the bedroom door so as to thwart any future escapes.
Rae’s health soon declined to a point that her daughter Radonna moved in to help Don. Rae’s son Andy was over often to help with things around the house and to make sure Rae was able to get out in the car for rides (mostly to the beach) that she loved so much. During this time Rae and Don’s longtime friends, Gene and Annie Geri and Bill and Jackie Johnston became angels on earth. Constantly ministering to them. Bill and Jackie always came over bringing Rae and Don a Wendy’s Frosty and laughter through the crazy adventures they had just been through. What a blessing to have friends such as these!! Even when Bill was going through illnesses that eventually took his lovely life, they still managed a visit. Bill Johnston I am sorry to say passed away days before Rae. Jackie said he would be there to greet Rae! Gene and Annie Geri were there on Rae’s last night on this Earth. Although Annie could no longer get out of the car, she was there faithfully every Saturday night waiting patiently and Gene would come in and administer Holy Communion to Don. He always went to Rae’s bedside and talked to her and blessed her. On that night Gene blessed Rae one last time on Saturday night.
During the years of Rae’s decline, Don sat faithfully by her chair and eventually bedside holding her hand, feeding her lunch and mostly stroking her face and filling her heart with his undying kindness and love.
Don and Rae loved to celebrate their love for each other in many ways. One of these ways was to go back to Pensacola Beach on their anniversaries and take their picture at the place their Love Story first began. So, on one of Rae’s last days on Earth, Radonna drove Rae and Don to Pensacola Beach for one last picture together. On the ride Rae, who hadn’t been able to move even her head much, looked around, she saw the water, she smiled a lot and you just knew she was happy. Radonna got them out of the car and took their picture together. Then she took Rae’s shoes off and placed her feet in the sand one last time.
On the night of Rae’s death Don was right there holding her hand and talking to her. He stayed up until nearly midnight but could not sit in the chair any longer. We went over to his Beloved Rae and stroked her face, told her loved her and gently, lovingly placed one last kiss on her face. Surrounded by soothing peaceful music and minutes after Don left the room, Rae let out one last sigh and she was gone. It was October 13th at midnight on a full moon. Their love story will continue when Don meets Rae again ….. who knows maybe on a Heavenly Beach...
A service will be held on Thursday October 17, 2019 at Trahan Family Funeral Home, with a visitation at 6:00 pm, and the service following at 7:00 pm.