Marvelle Johnson, former adviser and co-founder of NAU’s Multicultural Engineering Program, died in her home on Elkhorn Creek in Georgetown, Ky., on Feb. 21, 2014. She was 77.

Ms. Johnson was born May 27, 1936, in Little Rock, Ark., to C.C. and Barbara Hoggard. A talented musician at a young age, she played piano for her local church and learned to bust out the boogie-woogie, heavy on the left hand. In high school, Ms. Johnson was athletic and competitive and enjoyed playing softball and basketball. It was during a bus ride to a basketball game that she met Lloyd, who would become her life-long love and husband.

Ms. Johnson earned a degree in family counseling from the University of Kentucky. She was involved in the Central Baptist Church, served as one of the first female deacons, taught Sunday school for more than 30 years and started the church’s day care program. Ms. Johnson devoted time and passion to helping improve the lives of women and children.

She accepted an advising position in NAU’s engineering department in 1992 and, within two years, she and her husband co-founded the Multicultural Engineering Program to help recruit and retain Native American students in the field of study. Known for her gift of listening and connection, Ms. Johnson filled the role of second mother to many students, providing love and encouragement to kids who were far away from home and instilling many with the desire and drive to finish their degree.

Ms. Johnson will be remembered as a model of compassion and tolerance, for her passion for reading and music, cooking and dancing, as well as the bright light of her wide, wide smile.

Ms. Johnson is survived by Lloyd, her husband of 58 years; children Robin (Diana Little), Bryce, and Stephanie Parkin (Sean); siblings Lynn Taylor (Jimmie) and Donnie Hoggard (Barbara); and grandsons Calvin and Sam Parkin. A reception in her honor was held in Lexington, Ky. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Marvelle H. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund for Women in Engineering, #5379,  online or via mail to: NAU Foundation, Fund 05379, PO Box 4094, Flagstaff, AZ  86011. Share condolences in the online guestbook here.