Lillian (Joy) Celeste Hodkins Spencer Johnson passed away peacefully on December 24, 2020. She was a long-time resident of Columbia and had resided in Fort Myers, Florida since 2014.

Joy was born on February 26, 1927, to Maurice J. Hodkins and Lillian Celeste (Collins) Hodkins in Kansas City, Missouri. She was the oldest of two daughters. Her family moved to Lee’s Summit, outside Kansas City, when she was eight, then transplanted to Pocatello, Idaho when she was 11. It was in Pocatello that she met her first husband, Dale R. Spencer. They met in high school but didn’t date until he graduated and joined the Navy. After high school, she attended Idaho State for two years until the end of the War. She followed Dale to Columbia in 1946 and they both graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism. They were married in Pocatello during Christmas break, December 21, 1947. Their two daughters, Melinda and Jennifer, were born in Columbia in 1954 and 1956.

Joy was a woman ahead of her time. She ran a business (Speed-O-Type) for many years before taking over management of the Stephens College Bookstore. She oversaw the design and move from a basement bookstore in Wood Hall to its prominent position in the Stamper Commons building in the early 1970’s. While at Stephens, she headed the Fashion Department for two years and taught many years in the Business Department. She led several trips to Europe with 25 Stephens students to visit businesses throughout the continent and the UK. Throughout her years at Stephens, Joy relished her role as advisor to many women advisees. One of her legacies is the impact she had on many young women both directly and indirectly by showing how to balance home and work successfully. During that time, she, also, completed her MBA at Mizzou.

She was widowed unexpectedly on December 23, 1988, but continued to teach and travel overseas with friends.

In 1991, she met Ken Johnson, from St. Clair, Missouri and they were married on April 25, 1992, in Columbia. With Ken, she traveled and managed homes in Columbia, St. Clair, the Lake of the Ozark and Ft. Myers, Florida. They moved to Florida full-time in the fall of 2014 and Ken passed away the following March.

In addition to mentoring and advising young women, Joy loved to travel, entertain, and garden. She enjoyed numerous trips overseas, hosted memorable parties, and created flourishing patios and decks. She did it all with elegance.

Joy was predeceased by her parents, her sister, two husbands, and one grandchild. She is survived by her two daughters, Melinda (Michael) Machones and Jennifer (Steven) Ambrose, four grandchildren, Adam Machones, Kristin (Jason) Sarno, Brett Ambrose, and Austin Ambrose, and one great-grandchild, Maximus Michael Sarno. She is also survived by two stepsons, Doug (Sabra) Johnson, of Lake Ozark, Mo, and Mike (Valorie) Johnson, of Maryville, TN, and their families.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Joy Spencer Johnson Memorial Scholarship, set up to support students studying abroad at Stephens College. Memorials may be made online at Joy Spencer Johnson Memorial Scholarship or sent to Stephens College, Office of Advancement, 1200 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65215.

A private family service is scheduled for September 23rd in Columbia.

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