Obituary: Marjorie Springmeyer
Marjorie Springmeyer, conservationist, philanthropist and outspoken advocate, passed away at her home in Minden, Nevada, surrounded by family and friends Thursday, Jan. 28. She was 93.
Marjorie was born July 23, 1922 in Gardnerville, Nevada, to Stella Van Dyke and Knox Johnson, both of whom were early settlers in the Carson Valley and South Lake Tahoe areas. Marjorie’s early childhood was spent in Carson Valley with relatively carefree summers in what was then still the sparsely populated wilderness of South Lake Tahoe.
Marjorie was particularly fond of the Bijou meadows. often recalling her favorite times there. The Great Depression and the early passing of her father in 1931 imprinted upon her an unwavering sense of austerity, economy and caution. Marjorie’s antipathy toward extravagance and waste led her to more deeply appreciate local Native American culture and its people’s respect for the environment.
As a teenager Marjorie first met Melvin Frederick “Buzz” Springmeyer one afternoon after school at the former Tarry Tavern, an ice cream parlor and soda fountain at the time. The two went on their first date the same evening and became “steadies” soon after. During her senior year Buzz and Marjorie were involved in a head-on collision that left Marjorie in a body cast with a shattered left knee. With several months of hospitalization and surgery ahead of her, Marjorie missed her graduation, but recovered in time to see Buzz enlist to join the war effort. After flying the maximum 35 bombing missions over Germany as a B-17 pilot, Buzz returned home unscathed to fulfill another mission before potentially being redeployed to the Pacific theater. Marjorie and Buzz were married a week later on April 22, 1945 at the Johnson ranch on Mottsville Lane, uniting two families that had both arrived in Carson Valley in the early 1860s.
Following the war, the couple set to work establishing a gas station and auto repair business at 2605 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, near the Johnson family’s summer pasture land. Beginning in 1948 they also welcomed three children — Constance Ann, Jon and Melvin Frederick (Jr.) — into the world.
Eventually Marjorie inherited a portion of her parent’s estate and they moved back to Carson Valley to live in the historic ranch house still located there today.
Marjorie settled into motherhood and dabbled in real estate as a local broker and property manager. As the couple began to contemplate retirement Marjorie organized a series of trips to satisfy her intense interest in seeing other parts of the world. Marjorie’s interests took them to countries like India and Russia when travel to such places was still thought of as exotic. Each time they returned Marjorie was eager to share what she had seen and the best of what other cultures had to offer. It was also during this time that Marjorie turned more of her attention to philanthropic interests. Marjorie was especially proud of the fact that she, in cooperation with her siblings Knox and Bill, was able to donate a significant portion of her remaining land around Johnson Boulevard at Lake Tahoe to the public in honor of her parents. Although the land was not developed as she had hoped, she went on to make additional smaller donations throughout her life, following the example set by her parents, to help ensure South Lake Tahoe continues to grow responsibly and sustainably.
Marjorie was preceded in death by her husband Buzz (2007), daughter Constance (1951) and sons Fred (2008) and Jon (2010). Marjorie is survived by her brothers Bill and Knox Johnson, daughter-in-law Bonnie Springmeyer, grandchildren, Erin (Diane), Ryan (Rachel) and Sara Springmeyer and great grandchildren Knox and Reid Springmeyer, who represent a sixth generation of Nevada residents. A memorial service will be held Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. at the CVIC Hall 1602 Esmeralda Avenue, Minden, Nevada.