Delene (Capone) Johnson of Tyngsboro, MA
Delene (Capone) Johnson, arguably the world's richest woman and undisputable leader of rip-roaring family gatherings, died peacefully Thursday, Dec. 3 the way she always wanted — surrounded by her loved ones.
Born July 5, 1942, she was the daughter of Florence (White) Capone and one of nine children, better known around Greater Lowell as the Capone clan (no relation to the infamous Chicago gangster, so they say).
As a young girl, Delene caught a glimpse of her future when her brothers started hanging around with a lanky Highlands kid with a flat top hairdo. Years later, that same kid would end up becoming Delene's best friend and favorite debate partner, and whom she would keep impeccably dressed in perfectly creased "dungarees" and sleeveless sweatshirts for 55 wonderful years.
Delene and Al Johnson married on Nov. 27, 1960. Together, they turned a starter house in Tyngsboro into Grand Central Station for family and friends seeking full-belly laughs, a full refrigerator to raid, and a welcoming place where even the worst days manage to fade away in a raucous chorus of old Lowell accents, one-liners, triple zingers and silverware clanking against dishes, a phenomenon referred to by Tyngsboro locals as "The Johnson Way."
Delene struck gold early in life. In her family, she found riches far more valuable than money. And she generously shared her over abundance of kindness, love and joy with every life she touched.
A natural born teacher and leader, her love for children stretched far beyond her own three kids. For 30 years she operated a popular home daycare business on Westford Road and became known as a second mom to scores of Tyngsboro kids, always making sure plates, hearts and minds were full.
She loved gardening, cooking enough food to feed a small army, and encouraging others to follow their happiness, wherever that might lead. You could count on Delene to be cheering from the sidelines, ready with a pep talk, plate of food and a hug to help along the way.
In addition to keeping the "cleanest floors in Tyngsboro" and loudly coaching the Patriots from the comfort of her living room chair (you're welcome Bill Belichick), she had an interestingly diverse taste in music and was known for blasting Celine Dion when driving around in her 20-year-old black Chevy Impala SS and grooving to her youngest son's rock guitar solos with equal zest.
Delene lived each day to the fullest for her family, and was rewarded with a home that never fell short on big laughs and unconditional love.
She is survived by her husband, Al Johnson; children, Michael Johnson and his wife Linda, Cheryl Silva and her fiancé Andy Milville, and Carl Johnson and his wife Rita Savard; grandchildren Mathew Johnson and his girlfriend Stephanie Dorman, Christopher Johnson and his fiancé Melissa Achilles, Adam Silva, Bethany Silva and Kelsey "Two Snacks" Silva; a great-granddaughter, Lexi Mae Johnson; and was loved dearly by her eight siblings, Barbara Capone Jewel and her husband Ed, Dottie Capone Core and her late husband Bob, Franky Capone and his wife Dolores, Danny Capone and his late wife Ruth, Bobby Capone and his wife Barbara, Louie Capone and his wife Leona, Bette Capone Lynch and her late husband Dave, Billy "Baby Boy" Capone and many neices and nephews. She also enjoyed the company of her and Al's trusty little dog, Dusty, and many friends who Delene considered part of her large extended family.
She is now reunited with her mentor and mom (a.k.a. "Nana" and Superwoman for raising nine children on her own), and her beloved first-born grandchild, Michael Johnson Jr., who also happened to be her favorite hockey player, No. 19.
Please don't mourn her passing. Instead, learn from her example and always be there for each other. And remember she'll still always be there when you need her most. Look for her in the first flowers that grow in spring, the cardinal that suddenly appears outside your window, the satisfying sip of a cold root beer float, Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam, freshly creased "dungarees," the silver lining in the sky at dawn, and most of all, the laughter in a roomful of family and friends.