Mary Stanford Johnson ~ Carbondale October 28, 2021

Mary Stanford Johnson, 83, a resident of Carbondale, IL for five decades, passed away at 12:48 pm on October 28, 2021 at Parkway Manor in Marion, IL. Mary was born December 29, 1937 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, and became the adopted daughter of Warren T. and Barbara Stanford, of Hinsdale, IL in early 1938. As a child, Mary enjoyed vacations with her step-grandmother Elsie (Terry) F. Childs and aunt Deborah Childs Brown, interesting women with whom she visited throughout their lives.

Mary graduated Valedictorian of Batavia High School in 1956, also receiving a Daughters of the American Revolution citizenship award for her leadership and service in student government, Girl Scouts, and other drama, sports, and student groups. She attended Smith College, and then received her bachelor’s degree, majoring in government, and a Kappa Alpha Theta, at Beloit College in 1960, where she met her first husband Brian C. Bennett, father of their daughter Sabrina Helen Bennett Hardenbergh and son Langdon Stanford Bennett. Mary attended Washington University, and later finished her Master’s degree in government at SIU-Carbondale, focusing on constitutional law. She studied further in political science, plus course work in zoology and ornithology toward a second master’s, with the intent to apply it toward environmental policy work. Concurrently, she raised her daughter, became a Girl Scout leader, went camping across the US, and traveled abroad to East Africa and South Asia with late ex-husband William S. Hardenbergh, and volunteered with Audubon on a bird banding project at Giant City State Park.

While a single mom, Mary briefly drove a school bus for West Bus Service. Then in 1976, she and her daughter began working at Arnold’s Market in Carbondale, wherein for 3 and a half decades Mary became one of the two head female butchers with Joy Sanders, regionally known for their meat counter until they each retired from meat cutting at 65. Mary subbed part-time at Arnold’s in her retirement, and also continued international travel with her late husband of 28 years, John R. Johnson. They visited all seven continents including Antarctica and saw former work sites of daughter Sabrina in Madagascar and son Langdon in Japan. Mary catered her late husband John’s antique airplane fly-ins at Pinckneyville airport. She enjoyed cooking a wide variety of food, which appeared at holiday and family birthday dinners. They also socialized with friends at volleyball parties, potlucks, and Sunset Concerts, and attended music events at SIU and the St. Louis Symphony. Mary served as an election judge in her Makanda precinct.

Mary is survived by her daughter Sabrina Hardenbergh (Carbondale, IL), son Langdon Bennett (Los Alamos, NM) and their father Brian C. Bennett, plus step-daughters Dana Grady (Grand Ridge, FL), Shannon Nebolsky (Northbrook, IL), and Rose Bazzell (Murray, KY), and also 10 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, Mary’s sister Katherine (Katy) Nielsen (Portland, OR), 3 nieces and their children. Her adoptive parents Warren T. and Barbara Stanford, step-grandmother Elsie (Terry) Child, Aunt Deborah Brown, former husbands William S. Hardenbergh and John R. Johnson, and nephew Scott Nielson preceded her in death.

The family is grateful to Addus home health aides, and The Landings and Parkway Manor staff, for helping Mary in her last few years of Alzheimer’s and the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic. Walker Funeral Home provided cremation services.

A memorial will occur at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, 105 N Parrish Lane, Carbondale, IL on Wednesday, December 29th, Mary’s birthday. Doors open at 1 pm, memorial at 1:30 pm, reception 2:30 – 4:30 pm.


  1. Laurel Toussaint says

    Always loved seeing Mary…always a warm, welcoming, special smile. Made everyone feel special.

  2. KC says

    Lovely obituary and what a wonderful life your mother led. I remember her smile. Thanks for remembering Mom in your reflections

  3. Laraine Wright says

    I remember Mary from Southern Illinois Audubon Society and from Arnold’s Market. What a truly adventurous and active life she led! I loved hearing of her just-completed trips and her plans for the next one. Her smile warmed everyone’s hearts. Thank you for honoring her so well with your obituary tribute.

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