Meet Jackie Johnson

Location: Kansas City, Kansas
Age: 60
Marital Status: Married
Education: BA in English Literature, University of Colorado


Where are you from?

I grew up in New Mexico–Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

And where do you live now?

Kansas City.

Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas City, Kansas?

Kansas. Part of Kansas City is in Missouri and part is in Kansas. There’s a road through the city line that divides the states. When I first came here, you couldn’t get a drink in a restaurant on the Kansas side but you could walk across the street and get a drink in Missouri. My husband is a lawyer here, and it used to be if you were a Kansas lawyer, you couldn’t live on the Missouri side, even if you had a license in both states.

How long have you been married?

I’ve been married for 26 years. It’s my second marriage. I was 39 when I had my son, Randy. We started late.

How old is Randy?

He’s 21. He is a junior at Connecticut College, but he’s doing his fall junior semester at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. I named him after my father. Both my parents were killed when I was 16.

How were they killed?

In a plane crash outside of Aspen. My father was famous, so for the first few days they thought he had been kidnapped.

Who was he?

Dr. Randy Lovelace. He was a doctor and an inventor. He invented the oxygen mask and the theory of free fall for jumping out of an airplane. He was also the first head of medicine for NASA. He picked the first seven astronauts.

What was your mother like?

She was an elegant, fun woman–the kind that every man in the room would like to talk to.

When your parents died, who did you live with?

My mother’s eldest sister, my Aunt Ethel. She was this sophisticated, chic, extraordinarily bright woman who spent years traveling between Santa Fe, New York and Paris. She moved back to Albuquerque for me so I could finish my senior year of high school. It was a huge sacrifice. She never cooked, she never took care of her own children (they were sent away to boarding school), so I say I got the best of Aunt Ethel.

Did she influence your style?

Yes. She was absolutely elegant, but minimal. She had three really great jackets and four really amazing pairs of shoes. Her husband had a lot of money so her jewelry was exquisite. He would come tripping home from Van Cleef & Arpels with gifts.

How would you describe your style?

I simplify everything. I wear a lot of black and white. It doesn’t phase me to buy a jacket that’s expensive because they last me five to ten years.

Do you have siblings?

I have two sisters. I lost a sister to cancer. She was 63. She had a rare cancer of the duodenum. They operated on it and then they couldn’t get the tumor. That’s the one creepy thing about your 60s, you just hope you can get through them and be healthy.

Where did you go to college?

Mills College in California. Then I went to the University of Colorado for English literature. I graduated early and I was going to go to journalism school at Columbia but fell into a nifty situation and ended up in Washington. The senator from New Mexico was my father’s friend. He had just lost a press assistant and asked me to work for him. I worked for him for two years before he retired, and then I became press secretary for the Senate Interior Committee and never went back to school.

You lived for a period in Colorado, no?

In the 70s, a congressman asked if I would be the press secretary for his campaign in Denver, so I moved there.

Did you ever do anything with your English degree or you stuck with politics?

I owned the Rocky Mountain Ski Guide at one point. It did really well for years and then totally fell apart with the economy.Then I started a lifestyle magazine called Club Ties. I developed the circulation by getting the rights to all the private membership lists of the top clubs in Colorado. We had a field day for about six years and even won awards. Then, again with the economy, we lost all of our advertising.

Were you married at this point?

Yes. In Denver I was married to a guy that I was madly in love with in college. I was working 24-hour days, seven days a week on the campaign. One night, I came home late and my husband, who looked kind of like Clint Eastwood, was sitting in the kitchen drumming his fingers on the table. ‘Where’s dinner?’ he asked. I said, ‘Let me look,’ and opened up cabinets and the refrigerator. ‘Not here,’ I told him. He really wanted a classic wife. So that was it. The next day I woke up and said, ‘You’re out.’

What’s your current husband like?

I hit the husband lotto. He would never ask me to iron anything. He does the dishes with me.

How did you meet him?

My friend Kathleen set us up when I lived in Washington in my 20s. I lived on the first floor of this wonderful three-story Victorian home, four blocks behind the Supreme Court. Kathleen (who became Governor Kathleen Gilligan of Kansas) lived on the second floor. We became great friends and had fun, crazy times together. Kathleen married and moved to Kansas where she became Executive Director of the Kansas trial lawyers. She called me and said ‘We are having our annual meeting in Vail, Colorado. Why don’t you come? I’d like you to meet Lynn Johnson.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to meet Lynn Johnson.’

So, what convinced you?

It was my birthday and he sent red roses. I called up Kathleen and said ‘Who is this desperate fool?’ But, I ended up going. We have a great time. He was celebrating something, but I didn’t ask what. He bought wine for everyone, we were all dancing, having a ball. I stayed two extra days.

How did you end up together?

When I got back to Denver, on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News was an article about a huge case that he had just won. I thought, ‘Hmm… not bad.’ So he came to visit, and then I flew to Kansas to visit him.

So, you got married and moved to Kansas. What did you do there?

I tried to start my magazine, Club Ties, here, but that didn’t work. The economy was just really bad. So I bought into a store called Poppawells. It had all kinds of fun, silly little gifts in it, all acrylic stuff. I didn’t like the partnership though, so I offered to buy him out. He said no, bought me out and then promptly closed the store.

So then what did you do?

After I had Randy I stopped working because I was 39. But, I always stayed involved.

Do you have a passion project?

I was very involved with the zoo here. I was the first Gala Chairman. I’ve also been involved in raising money for Democratic candidates.

Did you work on the Obama campaign?

No, I do mostly local campaigns… Kansas and Missouri. It impacts us so greatly.

0 Responses to “Meet Jackie Johnson”

  1. rgarbo says:

    Is this lady for real? Narcissistic much? Sad.


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