Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, great-aunt, sister, and consumer of life experience, Lucina Johnson Lewis (“Tina”) died suddenly of natural causes on Sept. 29, 2023, at age 77, at her home in Durham, N.C.
Born to George F.B. Johnson Jr. and Audrey Strong Johnson on Jan. 25, 1946, Tina grew up in Greenwich, Conn., and graduated from the Rosemary Hall School. She spent her early summers with family at her grandmother Lucy Park’s home in West Chop, and later at her parents’ home in Edgartown. Her enrollment at Endicott College was interrupted when her striking beauty took her to New York City to launch a successful career in modeling and acting. That career was also brief, as she soon decided her heart was leading her toward marriage and motherhood.
Tina loved to open and share her homes with friends, family, first-time guests, and other out-of-town visitors. Under her roof, dinners and parties reverberated with stories and laughter, while weekend mornings were commonly set to a bluegrass soundtrack with a breeze blowing through open windows. Along with Durham, her homes over the years included New York, N.Y.; Sausalito, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Princeton, N.J.; Falmouth; Boulder, Colo.; and Newport, R.I. She was an enthusiastic collector of American folk art, and the walls of those homes were a tapestry of storytelling, personal history, and a life well-lived.
To live inside those homes was to experience Tina at her loving, supportive, and stubborn best. She ran a tight ship, punctuated with “Tina-isms” that echo to this day. The consummate sports mom, she earned her stripes on rainy soccer and lacrosse fields, dusty baseball diamonds, tree-lined rivers, and cold hockey rinks. Wins were celebrated, losses were shared, and minor injuries were greeted with calls to “Shake it off!” and get back out there. As a reluctant chef who made prodigious use of her prized chest freezer, meals were often served to her skeptical kids with a side dish of “This is not a restaurant.” But above all else, she seeded an appetite for expanding horizons into her children by exposing them to unique experiences, pushing them out of their comfort zones, and reminding them to seize their opportunities with a refrain of, “When the bus is there, you’ve gotta get on.”
No matter where Tina lived, she was quickly on a first-name basis with the people she encountered at her places — the market, Post Office, coffee shop, and so many more. The way she embraced local cultures and new experiences was perfectly captured by her membership in the alias-required Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) in Boulder, where “Silky McGill” embraced the sport of cowboy action shooting. Even local buskers knew that playing “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead when they saw her coming would get them a smile, a kind word about their playing, and a tip. Perhaps most importantly, she could tell you how to get anywhere in town without taking any left turns, which she disliked intensely.
Tina had a wicked sense of humor, punctuated with a high-pitched giggle that filled any room she was in. Nearly every holiday in the calendar year provided an opportunity to let people know she was thinking about them in the form of small packages with themed napkins, tea towels, and other handpicked goodies. It will be those days when her memory is freshest, and her loss will be felt the most.
Tina was preceded in death by her husband Winslow Lewis Jr. in 2012. “Mom/Ma/Totally Mom/Eedie” loved to brag about giving birth to 19 feet of men, and she is survived by those three sons: Whitman Thompson (Shannon), Winslow Lewis III (Andrea), and Crandell Parker Lewis (Allison). “Granny” is also survived by grandsons Spencer Philip Thompson, Ramsey Roy Thompson, Tuckerman Winslow Lewis, and Hart Frederick Lewis. In addition, she leaves behind siblings George F.B. Johnson III, Leigh Johnson Yarbrough, Isabelle Johnson Mender, Jaqueline Johnson Pile, and Rosamond J. Strong. Joining them are hundreds of nieces, nephews, cousins, and other lifelong friends who mourn her loss, but celebrate her life.
A memorial service will be held next autumn in Newport, R.I., where friends and family will say goodbye, and she will be reunited with Winslow, the love of her life.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to please put a few dollars into the instrument case of the next busker you encounter bringing light to the world through music.