Juanita Johnson didn't think she was doing anything special when she joined the first African-American Girl Scout troop in central Ohio.

Juanita Johnson didn't think she was doing anything special when she joined the first African-American Girl Scout troop in central Ohio.

She was just excited to be a Girl Scout.

"I was in the right place at the right time," the 82-year-old Bexley-area resident recalled in a recent interview.

Johnson grew up in Columbus during the Great Depression, when money was tight and opportunities were limited. She attended Second Baptist Church, where the Girl Scout troop was organized.

"My mother was a wise woman," Johnson said. "We could attend any church we wanted."

Johnson was 13 years old when she joined the Girl Scout troop in the early 1940s. She fondly recalls many of the things she learned, including how to tie knots and make chairs, tables and bread. She also enjoyed earning badges and spending time outdoors, and learned about teamwork and how to have a positive attitude.

"It was so much fun," said Johnson, who admitted that she didn't give much thought at the time to being a member of a historic Girl Scout troop. She said she was just glad to be involved.

Johnson was married to Thomas Johnson, who died in 1999. The couple had five sons and two daughters, 11 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

Johnson's husband was a military engineer whose career took the family to France, Japan, New Jersey and Kansas. In each place, she became a Girl Scout leader.

She liked Japan the most because of the culture. The family had an English-speaking housekeeper who shared the Japanese culture and language, Johnson said.

After the family moved to Kansas, Johnson established a Girl Scout troop by meeting with the base general. She explained that girls were not second-class citizens and needed their own troop, she said, adding, "I was nice, of course."

Once the troop was established, she had the girls march for the general in full uniform, complete with hat, sash, socks and white gloves.

"They marched and did a beautiful job," Johnson said. "I was so proud of those girls."

After moving back to Columbus, Johnson said she worked as an educational aide and an audiovisual technician for 10 years for the Columbus school district. She also was active in community theater.

She later went to the Columbus College of Art and Design to learn how to be an artist. She proudly displays her artwork in her home, which is technically in Columbus although she notes her backyard is in Bexley.

Sara West, public relations director of the Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland Council, said Johnson is one of two remaining Girl Scouts from her troop.

"Add to that her military travel experiences, and the fact that she stayed with Girl Scouts and saw a need everywhere she went and made things happen, and you have an amazing story," West said.

West said Johnson will be recognized during the organization's annual meeting this spring.

She is an "energetic, enthusiastic person who truly loved the Girl Scouts and felt it changed and shaped her life," West said.