Cynthia Marie Johnson of Saint Paul, Minnesota
(Feb. 17, 1948 - Sep. 11, 2023)
Heaven gained the most loving, kind, beautiful, smart, gifted, happy, generous, and seriously funny angel on September 11, 2023. As we mourn the passing of Cynthia (Cindy) Marie Johnson, we celebrate her life and thank God for giving us a "national treasure" of our own.
Cindy was an extraordinary person whose enthusiasm for life was rare and infectious. She was born at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota on February 17, 1948, and passed into our Lord's loving arms on September 11, 2023. The mold was broken the day Cindy came into this world. She was baptized and actively practiced her Catholic religion, including by treating every person with dignity and respect.
She was an excellent student and, throughout her career, she was most often the smartest person in the room. She was a sports enthusiast and participant, accompanied her doctor-father on house calls, frolicked with her incredible mother, volunteered for years in various capacities at St. Luke's Hospital (something that incidentally convinced her to become a lawyer not a doctor), and thoroughly enjoyed her parents, brothers, and many friends.
After graduating high school in 1966, Cindy attended Marquette University and received a Bachelor of Arts, History degree in 1970 and then attended Marquette University Law School, obtaining her Juris Doctor in 1973. Throughout her tenure at Marquette, Cindy was tops in her class. She was raised to do her best, and that she did. Cindy was a legal scholar who loved the U.S. Constitution and firmly believed it is the most important legal document in the United States because it serves as the basis for our freedom, our rights, and our great Republic.
After passing the Minnesota Bar and becoming a licensed attorney, Cindy worked at the Minnesota Supreme Court for more than 25 years. From 1973 to 1974, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Justice George Scott, who respected Cindy and her brilliance. The Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court so deeply admired Cindy's legal acumen and writing skills that the Court asked Cindy to join the Commissioner's Office as Assistant Commissioner following her clerkship. Three years later, the Justices appointed Cindy as the Supreme Court's Commissioner, an extreme honor. Cindy was the first women and youngest person to ever serve in that role. In so doing, she became one of the State of Minnesota's pioneer women paving the way for women lawyers to achieve greatness. It is not surprising that Justice Rosalie Wahl and Justice Mary Jeanne Coyne, women trailblazers in the legal field, were best friends with Cindy. Recognizing the importance of paving a path for women of future generations, Cindy went by "C.M. Johnson" at the Court, because, after all, women and men are equals. During her tenure, her accomplishments included: serving as a legal advisor to the Justices; overseeing and mentoring the law clerks; establishing certain Court processes and standards; and transitioning the Court from the sole appellate court to the court-of-last resort and from nine Justices to seven. As a teacher and confidante to the law clerks year after year, many clerks became Cindy's life-long friend and attribute much of their success to her exceptional mentoring. Cindy was the consummate professional and role model. Cindy was the perfect Commissioner. She had a brilliant legal mind, and the judicial system owes her a debt of gratitude for her long and exceptional service.
Cindy left the Court to pursue a career in the private sector, serving as the General Counsel of The Mercanti Group, LLC, an investment banking firm, from its inception in 2001 to 2009, when the boutique investment banking firm was acquired by a national firm. In her role as General Counsel, Cindy took and passed many financial licensing tests with flying colors. As a testament to her business acumen, in 2010, The Minneapolis Business Journal recognized Cindy as a "Women in Business Industry Leader."
Cindy was a voracious reader, and she loved to travel. She was an excellent athlete, loving golf, running, racquetball, and tennis. Her greatest golf accomplishment was qualifying for and playing in the USGA Women's Senior Open, only a few months after successfully battling breast cancer. She was a sports enthusiast and loved professional baseball with a passion. She could quote more baseball statistics from memory than most sportscasters.
Even with all of her professional successes, Cindy was humble and did not define herself by her professional successes or outside interests. Rather, being the very best daughter, sister, aunt, and friend mattered most to Cindy. She leaves behind a phenomenal legacy, having touched the lives of so many in unbelievably important and even life-altering ways. She would do anything for those she loved.
Cindy had a heart of gold and loved without limits. She lived her life with great joy and never looked in the rear-view mirror. She had a contagious laugh and a wicked (and sometimes dry) sense of humor. She often remarked, "I have no regrets. I have had a marvelous life." And, indeed, she did. She will be profoundly missed, and we will live life to the fullest in her honor, just as she would have insisted we do.
Cindy was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Karl and Catharine ("Kay") Johnson. She is survived by her loving family: two brothers, Dr. Randall (Gloria) Johnson and Mark (Barbara) Johnson; nephew, Andrew (Carrie) Johnson and Elena, Carter, and Mia; nephew Chris (Elizabeth) Johnson and Violet; nephew Ben (Amanda) Johnson and Bode and Lyla; niece Cally (Alejandro) Johnson Escudero and Valentina, Olivia, and Alexandra; and nephew Sammy (Jillian) Johnson. Cindy was a quintessential best friend to so many for decades, including Kate Johnson, Jean Johnson, Mary Jo Sheehy, Kathy Mahoney, and "Barbie" D'Aquila. The void is overwhelming. To know and have been loved by Cindy Johnson is truly one of life’s greatest gifts.
Mass of the Christian Burial will take place on Saturday September 16, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Assumption, 51 West 7th Street St. Paul, MN. Private Interment for family and close friends will take place at Calvary Cemetery, Duluth, MN on Monday, September 18, 2023. Visitation will take place on Saturday at the Church, one hour prior to Mass.
The family would prefer donations in lieu of florals to the C.M. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Marquette Law School, attention: Christine Wilczynksi-Vogel, 1215 W. Michigan Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233 or care of the funeral home.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 612-861-6088