Community News

Obituary: Marlene Johnson

April 19, 1936 – August 27, 2022

Submitted by VanRensselaer & Son Funeral Home

STEAMBURG – B. Marlene “JaGohNyah” Johnson, 86, of West Perimeter Rd., Steamburg, passed away at 11:30pm on Saturday, August 27, 2022 at the Absolut Care of Allegany.

Marlene was born April 19, 1936 in Buffalo, the daughter of the late Georgianna Bennett. She was a 1954 graduate of Fredonia High School, received her Associates degree from Alfred State College in 1956, and her Bachelors in sociology and Masters in Counseling from St. Bonaventure University.

She was an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Wolf Clan. She retired from St. Bonaventure University, where she was Director of the Higher Education Opportunity (HEOP) Program. After retiring from Bona’s, she worked as a Guidance Counselor at the Randolph Union Free Academy. She was also the proud home maker to her five daughters.

Mrs. Johnson was well known in the Seneca Nation Community for her life’s work enriching the culture and advancing their efforts, locally and nationally. Marlene was instrumental in creating the Seneca Nation Newsletter, was an elected Seneca Nation Councillor, served on the Salamanca Lease Committee and testified before the United States Congress on behalf of the Committee, secured grant funding to build the Steamburg Community Center, served as a board trustee for the Seneca Nation Library, became the Tribal Advocate following the Kinzua Dam Project, was appointed as a Delegate to the first White House Conference on Indian Education, founded the Native American Indian Association of New York in 1992, and was appointed by the New York Governor to the Board of Directors of the former Gowanda Psychiatric Center in Perrysburg, NY.

She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Gordon C. Johnson, Jr. of Steamburg, whom she married on June 16, 1956 in Fredonia; four daughters, Teri Marlene (Del) Pelletier of Steamburg, Lori Virginia (Don) Quigley of Grand Island, Juli Anna Johnson of Ocala, FL, and Tami Jayne (Tim) Portale of Gold Canyon, AZ; 9 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

She was preceded by her daughter, Mari Elizabeth (Pat) Hickey on November 27, 2021 in Ireland.

As per Marlene’s wishes, visitation will not be observed. A graveside service for both her and Mari, was held September 4th in the Hillside Haven Cemetery, Bunker Hill Road, Steamburg. Donald White officiated

To leave a condolence for the family log onto: Memorials may be left in her memory to NYS Native American Indian Education Association Scholarship (