RIP: Bernal Neighbor Carla Jean Johnson


Photo by Anna Kuperberg

Neighbor Carla Jean Johnson passed away earlier this month. Darcy Lee from Heartfelt knew her well, and tells us why it was such a big loss:

We lost a hero in Bernal. Carla Jean Johnson was an advocate for the homeless, for buildings being safely built in her city, for LBGT rights, the list goes on and on. She was a helper a true caring neighbor who would consult with you on whatever she was knowledgeable about, and that list also goes on and on.

I have asked her about building codes, dog behavior, when our house was moved onto Bernal, how to search the history of Heartfelt’s building….. she was a wealth of information and caring.

My favorite memory of Carla is from long ago, when Heartfelt still sold helium balloons. She would ask if I would open early to blow up balloons for her perfect vintage red truck for the Pride Parade. It was quiet on Cortland and her truck would shine as we tied on the balloons, a palatable excitement that has more meaning today than I even want to think about.

She knew so much and cared even more. A strong woman, an amazing partner to Anna, and in turn, Anna, your journey with your wife is an inspiration that is all about love. Carla Jean you are a true example of how one person can make a difference. My tears for you are big ones, you were a star to me.

Carla previously led the City’s Office on Disability, and Mayor Ed Lee also issued a statement on her passing:

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Carla Johnson, a dedicated City employee for over 27 years and a champion for disability rights in our City.

She has significantly helped to improve the quality of life our residents. In the last six years, she has led the Mayor’s Office on Disability and served as our City’s overall Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator. Her leadership has been instrumental in expanding the scope of the Mayor’s Office of Disability to become a strategic partner in all major San Francisco initiatives that impact the disability community, including ensuring accessibility in public housing and private establishments, digital communications, software applications, and public events and celebrations, and advocating for pedestrian safety and homeless service delivery.

With a generous heart, kindest demeanor and a life dedicated to public service, compassion and community, her legacy will continue to live on in our City.”

For those who wish to honor her memory and legacy, donations can be made to the Bayview Opera House for two purposes: to commission a public artwork that celebrates the values of equity to be placed on the building’s grounds or to support youth programming. Donations can be made online at, click on “Fund a Dream” or via check made payable to Bayview Opera House, Inc., 4702 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94124.

PHOTO: via Anna Kuperberg on Facebook

8 thoughts on “RIP: Bernal Neighbor Carla Jean Johnson

  1. What a beautiful tribute for a remarkable Renaissance woman with a huge heart. I didn’t know Carla Jean but I wish I did.

  2. I only knew who as a neighbor and a fellow dog owner, but she was a lovely person, and one of the people that have made Bernal such a great place to live.

  3. Huge tears for an amazing woman with a beautiful smile. Our sincere condolences to Anna . We will miss you at the wool – Andover block party.

  4. I had just been thinking about Carla as I hadn’t seen her in awhile and missed her. Carla had such a wonderful presence and I remember our talks well, whenever we happened to meet on the hill or Cortkand. We shared our interests in animals, old cars and Victorian remodeling. I’ll miss her!!

  5. This is so sad. I never knew Carla’s middle name or about her truck or old house, but as a colleague whom I looked up to and could turn to for advice (sometimes while waiting for coffees to be poured at Martha’s). Her powerful grace was impossible to mistake.

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