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Watching a century unfold in Fauquier County

Tuesday, Sep. 30 | By Hannah Dellinger
Eleanor Johnson of Warrenton, VA celebrated her 95th birthday with friends at the Bistro on the Hill in Fauquier Hospital.
Photo by Glenn Howell
Eleanor Johnson has spent nearly a century in Fauquier County.

She’s seen people, businesses and buildings come and go. She went to school during an era of segregation and has lived to see the county diversify. She’s lived through wars, social upheaval and a world of change.

Johnson turned 95 earlier this month and celebrated the milestone at the Bistro on the Hill at Fauquier Hospital with about 30 family and friends. The Warrenton Sojourners group organized the party for her, bringing together seniors that have known each other for decades.

“Some of them I had not seen in a good while,” said Johnson. “I went to school with some of their wives, and they’re now passed away. I guess that they felt at home since I knew they’re family. We enjoyed being together.”

She was born at Airlie in Warrenton and graduated from Warrenton High School in 1938.

She has spent most of her life in her Warrenton home with her late husband William Johnson and her son, William Johnson Jr.
She says that there isn’t any other place in the world that she could imagine spending her life.

“I know everybody that’s been here,” said Johnson. “And it’s just home.”

Staying in the same small town that she grew up in allows her to see her friends on a regular basis. Being around people is what matters most to her.

“There aren’t as many people that I grew up with around as there used to be,” she said with a calm sadness. “So many of them have passed away.”

Johnson pointed to two pictures on a windowsill at Warrenton Baptist Church Sunday school classroom. She said that the portraits were of two of her friends that recently passed away.

The main change in Warrenton, that she has witnessed over the years is the pace of life.

“Everyone’s too busy now,” she laughed.

Johnson is pretty busy herself, and always has been. She has been a member of the Warrenton Baptist Church for about 80 years, and has been involved with various church groups over her lifetime.

Johnson is currently part of the Friendly Friday senior group, the Women’s Missionary Union, participates in People Helping People and is treasurer of her Sunday school class.

Almost every single day Johnson has an event or activity planned.

“Saturdays I’m off,” she said with all seriousness. “I keep house a little bit on those days.”

Doug Harris, associate pastor at Warrenton Baptist, works with the senior adults in his congregation. He said that Johnson inspires others to stay active.
“For those that know her, she is an inspiration.

Harris remembers visiting Johnson in the hospital when she was experiencing some health issues the day before the church’s anniversary.

“She shared with me from the hospital room that she hoped to be able to go home that day, because she wanted to get into the kitchen that night and make some deviled eggs and bring them to the church’s anniversary picnic,” he said with fondness.

Johnson says that the most important advice that she can give to today’s young people is to love one another.

“You have to really be kind and try to love everybody,” she said. “You just have to be as good as you can. I love people.”

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