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Chief of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers links past, present

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson's love of history extends far beyond the pioneer museum she runs as president of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

History has long been a favorite genre for Johnson, who grew up in Utah and is a third-generation member of the DUP.

"It connects me with the past or it connects me with people of today that are doing important things," said Johnson, 80. "I like people and I like to understand them, and I think you understand them through their history.

"I like to read the stories of the common pioneer, because that gives you a true picture of what they went through," she said. "I love reading about my ancestors. It isn't what you would call scholastic reading, but it's interesting and I love it."

Johnson first got turned on to reading when she was 9 years old and became so ill that she couldn't leave the house. During that time, she read books, magazines and anything else she could get her hands on.

Currently, Johnson is reading a biography of John Taylor titled "The Last Pioneer," but her favorite biography is about John Adams.

"I thought that was a fascinating book; it gave us a look at relationships and the government and the forming of the country. It was all right here in that book," she said.

Taking an hour or two each day before and after work to read, Johnson said she's usually plowing through several books at a time. Johnson added she's not a big fan of modern novels, preferring instead to learn the histories of various cultures and people. "You're not really rooted if you don't understand the past. We need to be rooted into our culture, into our religion, into our families."