2023 Pioneer Day grand marshal Martha Johnson
Martha Johnson is the grand marshal for the 2023 Pioneer Day Parade. Martha has lived in Monticello for over 30 years and is friends with just about everyone in town.
Reflecting on the news of her appointment to be grand marshal, Martha shared that Monticello is a community of wonderful people. “My life here has been happy and I can’t think of any other place I would want to live.”
You’ll see Martha out walking picking up spare change. She also loves to crochet, read books, and do puzzles.
Martha loves living near some of her family. She has eight grandkids and 19 great-grandkids.
Her daughter, Lea Ann Nielson, wrote the following about the 2023 Pioneer Day Grand Marshal:
Martha has spent a lot of time wondering why she was nominated to be the grand marshal of the parade. She does not have any claim to being San Juan County pioneer stock.
These are some of my thoughts on why Martha (or Mom as I call her) was chosen, but first a little history on who she is.
This is just for information purposes and not to be mistaken for an obituary. Martha grew up across the border in Colorado, specifically Norwood, Naturita, and Nucla. She worked a variety of jobs, including working for Union Carbide at the uranium mill.
Newly divorced and looking for a fresh start, Martha came to Blanding around 1985 to work at the White Mesa Mill. The good people of Blanding introduced her to San Juan County.
She made many friends while in Blanding and still treasures their friendships today. The mill job ended with layoffs and she found herself looking for a new career.
She was hired at the San Juan County Sheriff's Office around 1991 as a dispatcher. She moved to Monticello to be closer to her job and favorite daughter.
She worked for the Sheriff's office for 20 years. She went to POST and moved into being a corrections officer. She had quite a reputation for being strict but fair with the inmates.
To this day she has friends that greet her on the street that once knew her as a corrections officer. She was sometimes feared by the inmates and they knew not to make her mad.
Martha's life wasn't easy and she had to make it on her own most of the time. She knows hard times and it has kept her humble and full of empathy for others.
Martha knows no strangers. Over the years through her job, church, and network of friends she has become well-known around town.
She and her friend Peggy Humphries make the rounds up and down Main Street every morning. She has a big wave for everyone passing by. She loves to spend time perusing parking lots and other places picking up spare change.
Through her years of walking her dog and making her rounds, she has always been a friend to everyone she meets. I had to talk to her about not picking up strangers at the city park and driving them to Moab.
She doesn't care how rich or poor, what religion you are or aren't, what color your skin is. She has time to chat and ask how you are doing. She actually cares.
She has spent over 30 years in Monticello and become a regular fixture around town.
Whatever your station in life is, Martha has never considered herself better than anyone else. She will treat you like a friend and offer encouraging words, a hug, and occasionally a risky joke.
She lights up the place when she walks in. She has offered the community a forever friend, a listening ear, and an offer to help anyone.
So even though she may not come from pioneer stock and she wasn't born and raised here in Monticello, she has made it her home and offered her whole heart to our little town.
Monticello, in return, has embraced her and made her their own.
Please give her a wave when you see her this weekend.
She will be riding in her friend, Terrill Slade's shiny antique truck. You can't miss her.