Luba Johnson loved education, and she especially loved science. Those who knew her say she shared that love of science with her students.
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Anthony Bartley was one of her students going back to 3rd grade. He was a state finalist in the science fair and said he graduated college with a degree in biology thanks to Johnson.
"Luba was one of the nicest people I think I've ever met and she consistently fostered an air of just trying, and doing, your best," Bartley said.
The 69-year-old educator developed COVID-19 late last month. Her family says they had little notice. She initially had no fever or other serious symptoms, but two days after going to the hospital they put her on a ventilator. She died the next week on the day before Thanksgiving.
"She just wanted to help. Like, that was something she instilled: service to others. She wanted to help people," said Christine Bischoff, her daughter.
It's a huge loss for her family and her students, her extended family.
"Her enthusiasm, her encouragement and her passion just kind of - as we would say - it was an 'osmosis situation,'" said Elizabeth Copper, executive director of the science fair for Chicago Public Schools.
Born in Germany, Johnson's parents moved to this country while she was still an infant. She developed her lifelong commitment to education as a child and shared it with everyone she knew, trying to inspire them. Her niece Debra Shiflett-Picardi is now pursuing her second doctorate degree.
"She really wanted to inspire and leave her mark on her students and everyone she touched," Shiflett-Picardi said.
Johnson told friends she planned to retire from teaching after this year. Most don't believe she could have left. They plan to continue her legacy with a scholarship in her name.
Luba Johnson Scholarship Fund
CPS Student Science Fair, Inc
P.O Box 803945
Chicago, Il 60680-3945Ll