EDISON, NJ – She’s not the last of a breed of go-getter female professionals, but she was undoubtedly one of the first.
Anne Johnson, an original “Girl Friday,” will mark her 108th birthday April 21 at Roosevelt Care Center in Edison.
The daughter of Italian immigrants, Johnson was the youngest of six children born to the Brigante family of Plainfield.
“I’ve lived what I’d call a normal life,” John said.
In her formative years, Johnson made the bold move to leave Plainfield High School and attend Business College instead.
By 18 years old, Johnson had graduated and was already navigating the daily grind as an office secretary.
That era’s working female secretaries, who decades later would be coined “Girl Fridays,” were coveted for their reliable nature and ability to handle a wide range of office duties.
Still, in the early 1920s, Johnson and her fellow female office managers were considered a nuance as the fairer sex sought to break the mold.
“I was alone and I ran everything,” Johnson recalled of those early days.
At 40, Johnson met and married her husband, Alfred Johnson.
While she never had children, by exchanging vows, she did inherit stepchildren and a family all her own.
In time, Johnson both moved to and began working out of Bound Brook.
Decades later, she left her long-time employer, a chemical company, opting for retirement.
As for the secret to longevity, Johnson doesn’t have much of an explanation, other than to say, “I kept pretty busy.”