Gloria Johnson in memoriam

Gloria broken window I've just heard the sad news that local campaigner Gloria Johnson has passed away.  Gloria had been unseen for a couple of weeks and her body was found in her flat on the Bemerton Estate.  Gloria was a fearless, robust voice in local civic society speaking up for tenants of social housing, older people and indeed anything that occurred to her. She will be sorely missed.

Often walking down the Cally Road i would be hailed at high volume by Gloria, often from the launderette, to talk through her latest issues.  She had a keen eye for things that were broken and needed fixing and absolutely no hesitation in spelling them out in words of one syllable with Anglo Saxon invective.   We worked together to clean up a dangerous fire escape (Gloria could see it was blocked from her Perth House eerie and would ring me at such volume she needn't have bothered with the phone), to fix broken lights, clean up the drug and sex trade detritus.  Indeed the very reason I set this site up in 2006 was because I was on a new committee with Gloria to clean up north kings cross and i knew it would generate a ton of work that i needed the web to manage.  Gloria also stood up fearlessly to local anti social behaviour.

Although she could show great compassion, Gloria was often a very challenging person to work with – she was as good at breaking relationships as making them.  Her attitude to race relations were certainly from a different era.  But after cooling off you could always go back to her and start again as if nothing happened.  Many local groups will miss Gloria's insight, even if their meetings might run a bit more smoothly.

For all her flaws Gloria was totally and utterly commited to making Kings Cross a better place and it's very sad that she is no longer with us. 

No doubt there are many Gloria anecdotes and memories out there – please feel free to add them in a respectful tone in the comments.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
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10 Responses to Gloria Johnson in memoriam

  1. Stephan says:

    Although I’m sure we’ll all agree that working with Gloria was (as Will put it “challenging,”) no one would ever question her genuine feeling for trying to improve her neighbourhood – for all who lived there.

    While I’m sure that all our future Safer Neighbourhood’s Panel Meetings will be a bit more quiet, they no doubt will lack the feisty banter of our colleague Gloria.

    We will all miss you!

  2. Lisa Tang says:

    Over many years of seeing Gloria (with her beehive hairdo) on the Cally Road, I have come to respect her for her fearlessness. She really was a character and I had many ‘interesting’ discussions with her. As the chair of SNP we will miss her contributions, RIP Gloria!

  3. Paul Convery says:

    I shall miss Gloria. I used to see her almost every day and she would always have something to say or ask about. She had a burning sense about what was right and what wasn’t. And she would know what went on around her like almost no-one else. Sometimes she interpreted events wrongly but often she was absolutely spot-on. I’ve chaired scores of neighbourhood meetings in the last 5 years or so and you could be sure that Gloria would attend almost everything and anything. She could be quite hard work when she got her mind fixed on something. And that something wasn’t always the subject under discussion. But she was a sincere, determined and committed woman with very firmly held opinions.

  4. Sue Cartwright says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Gloria’s passing. Over the years, many times at local meetings I’ve felt frustrated and impatient at Gloria’s interventions but despite deviations from the subject at hand and her own strong views she knew the Cally area so well and often had really useful information which she was always determined to share. She would stop me in the street or the Co-0p to discuss, at full volume and without preamble, whatever was on her mind. Beneath her blunt exterior she had a good heart and was one of Cally’s characters. She will be greatly missed.

  5. Patrick Swan says:

    I was sadden to read that Gloria died alone in her flat…she always spoke with particularly insight about the local community, the need for people to feel not sidelined by the powers that be but for all to feel their voices will be heard, understood and acted rightfully, improving the quality of life in the community. Her observations were keen, the battles she brought to the table, where always presented, if not repetitiously, full on in a way that is almost part a bygone era in the UK and her soul was good….A character one could not dream up, with a look that was exclusively Gloria, would be how I would describe Gloria when I first met her. She made it a point if not a conviction to not only introduce herself and her particular manner became instantly memorable. She wanted if not needed to know my name, where I lived, what I did, where I came from and all which she never forgot. Gloria always looked me straight in the eye when we spoke which too is a quality that made her someone to respect along with her courage, determination and conviction…though she died alone, her memory shall remain with many…

  6. Ruth Skinner says:

    I was fond of Gloria. She was a great local advocate. I can’t quite get my head around the idea of not bumping into her on the Cally and hearing all the latest community gossip and news any more. She had tremendous strength of character, and the ability to keep you talking for ages. I remember I once sat chatting in her little flat, and only managed to emerge 4 hours later, feeling encouraged, informed and perhaps somewhat bemused. I would love to know if there will be a funeral or memorial, as I would be really pleased to attend if there is. I will remember her well. Feisty, direct, perceptive, determined and warm. If there were more people like her in the world… well, a lot more would probably get done!

  7. Helen Walsh says:

    Gloria was everywhere and knew everyone on the Cally. She could be utterly hilarious and great company and loved her cats very much. I hope they have gone to a safe and happy home. She was clearly getting poorly towards the end but she was always brave and fiesty even when she was feeling dreadful. She could regale you with tales all day long and I look back fondly on the countless afternoons I spent in her flat hearing about Gloria’s world. She was unique and tenacious and I am pleased to have called her a friend. Her memory will live on in Cally, a spirit that strong will be remembered for a very long time.

  8. Bridget Fox says:

    I’ve known Gloria since I first came to Cally Neighbourhood Forum meetings over a decade ago. She was warm, kind, decent and totally straightforward, loved her neighbourhood and had the knack of asking the questions others wanted to ask, as well as some that were pure Gloria. Many times I’d get a phonecall from Gloria demanding the answer on some very practical question; she also loved a gossip, punctuated with her throaty chuckle. How she’d love these memories and tributes! Gloria’s flat, where we had many a long chat over a cup of tea, was like Gloria herself: warm, full of assorted memorabilia, and with a great view over the neighbourhood. It will be strange to walk down the Cally and never see Gloria again; she’ll be much missed.

  9. Deborah Barr says:

    Thank you for this site – Gloria was my husbands 1st cousin and when I started doing his family tree I found Gloria’s phone number in my deceased mother-in-laws address book and phoned her. She had brilliant memories of family members and we spent hours (literally)on the phone. To say she was a “straight talker” would be an understatement but we got on so well and she was so amusing with the Family Secrets!!
    I had been trying to contact her for about 6 weeks now, phoning and writing but not had any response so I was fearing the worse. Today I suddenly thought to google her name and found this site.
    I have no way on contacting her brother Raymond so if anyone does have details I would be extremely grateful.
    Thanks again.

  10. Pingback: Is the Cally ‘a sh*thole’? | Kings Cross Environment

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