Helping Families and Friends Honor Their Loved One

Frances Carroll (van Gulden) Johnson

LOWELL      Frances Carroll (van Gulden) Johnson, a loving daughter, sister, mother and grandmother, passed away peacefully on December 27, 2019. Her epitaph may be simple, but it is powerful: above all, she was kind. Although she may not have realized it, the world was brightened by her presence.

Born July 21, 1943 in Manhattan, Frances spent her formative years in Cambridge and adopted Framingham as her hometown, graduating from Framingham High and raising her children there. She was a merchandiser and buyer’s assistant for Zayre’s for decades. Although dedicated to her company, work was a means to an end. Her true passions were family, friends, the Patriots and Red Sox, Bob Segar and Robert Plant (not always in that order). She saw Led Zep in 1968 and slept out for Segar tickets in the early 80’s. Frances stuck by the Pats and Sox back when “not last” was an achievement and relished the reward the turn of the century brought to both teams.

Frances enjoyed many lifelong friendships that could not be diminished by either distance or time. She had many extra children, caring for her kids and grandkids’ friends nearly as much as her own, and she took her granddaughter-in-law into her heart at first meeting.

Kindness ruled her life. For Frances, everyone was precious. Despite her natural introversion, she instinctually made everyone she met, even for just a moment, feel special and cared about.

Christmas was by far her favorite holiday; she reveled in the magic and sharing. Frances loved decorating the home and picking out the perfect gift for loved ones. But her greatest gift to us all was her laugh. She had an incredible sense of humor, and she shared her joy with any who heard her laugh. Oh, how we will miss her laugh.

She is survived by her daughter, Laura R. Johnson, and son, Christopher D. Johnson, her grandchildren, Ishmael T. Johnson (Abril) and Kathryn G. Oliver. She was the dear sister of Dirk J. van Gulden and the late Norman van Gulden and aunt of Lindsay, Daniel, Ginny, Andy, Jamie, and Kristen. Frances shared many of her happiest childhood and teen memories with her sweet cousin, Ann Trahan at her mother’s family home in Fairhaven. She is predeceased by her father, Leo A. van Gulden and mother, Ruth Carroll van Gulden.

A memorial service will take place on Saturday January 18, 2020 from 12 noon until 2p.m. at the Wayside Inn, in the Ford Room, 72 Wayside Inn Road, Sudbury, MA 01776. Arrangements by the Mahoney Funeral Home, 187 Nesmith Street, Lowell 978-452-6361. Memorials in her name to Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Waverly Oaks Road, Waltham, Ma 02452. E-condolence – MAHONEYFUNERALHOME.COM


  • Phyllis and David starr Posted December 31, 2019 2:32 pm

    The Starr Family has wonderful memories of living next door to the van gulden/ Johnson famiky for almost 21 years in Framingham. We send our condolences to all the family, but especially to Dirk, Laura, and Chris whom we knew so well. We all our thinking of you at this time.

  • Minerva Ciccarelli Posted January 2, 2020 8:13 pm

    Francis and I had wonderful times at Zayre Corp. and other outings, too many to mention. She will be missed but I have wonderful memories of our times together. My condolences to all the family.

  • Marie Elaine Johnson – Nall Posted January 8, 2020 11:17 pm

    When David died in July 1996, she called me to offer me sympathy and comfort, something that meant the world to me. We had shared the love of a man special to both of us, and her kindness to me was never forgotten.

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