Kendal Michelle Johnson, who passed away in her home in Mammoth Lakes at the age of 49, loved animals, skiing, being outdoors and was a dedicated member of her church. She passed away on September 7.
“The girl floated down a mountain,” said her older sister, Dawn Sheriff-Heslip, who moved to Mammoth with Kendal in 1990 and now lives in Winemuccca, NV. “She didn’t ski, she floated.”
Dawn recalled with laughter the times that Kendal would coax her into skiing down Scotty’s or Dave’s Run at Mammoth Mountain.
“Well, Kendal breaks out in wings and takes off and floats down the run, and here’s me, the fat lady, oh man, I was pissed. I had a complete yard sale!”
But, she said, “watching her ski was a blessing. She really loved Mammoth Mountain.”
Dawn said that one of her younger sister’s greatest joys was teaching children on the mountain during the two years she spent as a ski instructor.
“She just loved giving to those babies, teaching them a new gift.”
Dawn also said that Kendal, who, prior to her death, worked at the DoIt Center in Mammoth, had an incredible talent with animals.
“If it had a heartbeat, she could train it,” said Dawn. She said that Kendal pursued a bachelor’s degree in zoology at San Diego State University in 1999, and that she subsequently worked as a sea lion and dolphin trainer in Nuevo Vallarta, on the Baja peninsula.
“If I had a problem with one of my dogs or cats I’d call my sister and she’d tell me how to deal with it,” said Dawn. “She was just brilliant with that stuff.”
Kendal and her former husband, Scott Johnson, were married for 18 years and traveled on Johnson’s boat extensively, from Mexico to Bali to Costa Rica.
For two years prior to her death, Johnson lived with her partner, Bert Meyer, who works in Mammoth in construction. Meyer and Kendal met at church, said Meyer, who said that Kendal was very dedicated to her faith. Meyer said Kendal always wore little bows in her hair, “it was sort of her trademark,” and that her favorite color to wear was yellow.
He said that, following a knee surgery, Kendal hadn’t skied the last few seasons, so the two of them went snowmobiling instead around Shady Rest and up the San Joaquin Ridge. He said that Kendal had bought a pass for the upcoming ski season in anticipation of her knee being healed enough to ski once more.