Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden
JOHNIE LEE FAIN
Johnie Lee was born on May 15, 1906, the daughter of John Lee and Sarah (Sally) Emily Morris Parsons on a cotton farm in West Texas and came to Prescott with her family when she was 12 years old. She was a student at St. Joseph's Academy during her first two years of secondary school, and then she transferred to Prescott High School.

Johnie was voted "Prescott High School's Cutest Girl" in 1932. The yearbook THE HASSAYAMPER shows her to be active in sports, dramatics and student government. But her favorite hobby was listed in the 1924 yearbook as "Riding with Norman."

She and Norman Fain were a couple during their senior year but separated after graduation when Johnie Lee took a secretarial job with the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and enrolled at Arizona State Teachers College in Tempe. She moved to Fort Worth, Texas, after a few weeks to pursue piano studies at Fort Worth Conservatory of Music and to work in the trust department of the First National Bank.

She and Norman corresponded, and Norman came to visit her after graduating from Leland Stanford University in 1928 and proposed to her. She had become fluent in Spanish and was about to accept a job with an American oil company in Mexico. But instead she accepted Norman's proposal, knowing that life on a ranch would be different from anything she had ever experienced.

She and Norman were married on October 7, 1928, in Fort Worth, Texas and returned to Prescott. It was round-up time, and she was soon initiated into a rancher's primitive lifestyle. The Fains were involved with caring for several thousand sheep.

They moved to the Muleshoe Ranch in the desert country some 50 miles southwest of Prescott, far from civilization. They lived in a wood-floored tent during the two-plus months they stayed there each year. Their first child, Donna Lee (Wells Tryba) was born in November 1929. They moved to the old Fain ranch house at Camp Verde where Johnie cooked for crews of ranch hands through the summers and assisted with the ranch chores.

Their second child, Carolyn Sue, was born on May 3, 1934, at the Camp Verde house. The day before Johnie and Millie (her mother-in-law Mildred Fain) had been canning beef. In 1935, the Fains moved to Yeager Canyon, near Mingus Mountain and into an 1880s antique structure that had been put together with square nails. It had no conveniences. On January 20, 1938, Norman William "Bill" II was born.

"I was not born to be a ranch wife," Johnie said, "but I came to love the life." She rarely missed riding in a roundup over a period of four decades. During World War II, Johnie assumed more and more responsibilities because of the shortage of men on the ranch and because Norman was in Phoenix several months a year, serving in the Arizona Senate.

Johnie Lee was a long-time member of the Faith United Community Church where she played the piano. She was the first president of the Yavapai Cowbelles and later president of the Arizona State Cowbelles. She contributed ranching articles to "Echoes of the Past" published by the Cowbelles. She served as Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star and her community service included aid to the Arizona Boys' Ranch and working on nationwide beef promotion campaigns.

Johnie Lee died at her home in Dewey on September 10, 1999, and was interred at Redwood Memorial Gardens in Dewey.

Her mother-in-law, Mildred Black Fain, is also represented in the Rose Garden as is Carrie Fain, Norman's grandmother.

DONOR: Sharlot Hall Museum Rose Garden Committee
September 1999


Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.