Rose Garden PhotographsJohnie Lee (Parson) Fain was born May 15, 1906, the daughter of John Lee and Sarah “Sally” Emily (Morris) Parson on a cotton farm in West Texas. She came to Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona with her family when she was twelve years old. She was a student at St. Joseph's Academy during her first two years of secondary school and then transferred to Prescott High School.

Johnie was voted "Prescott High School's Cutest Girl" in 1923. The yearbook, the Hassayamper, illustrates that she was active in sports, dramatics and student government. However, her favorite hobby was listed in the 1924 yearbook as "Riding with Norman."

Johnie Lee and Norman Fain dated during their senior year but separated after graduation when Johnie Lee took a secretarial job with the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and then decided to enroll at Arizona State Teachers College in Tempe. However, she moved to Fort Worth, Texas, after a few weeks to pursue piano studies at Fort Worth Conservatory of Music. She also worked in the First National Bank trust department. She and Norman corresponded, and during a visit after he graduated from Leland Stanford University in 1928, he proposed to her. She had become fluent in Spanish and was about to accept a job with an American oil company in Mexico. 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 roundup time, and she was soon initiated into a rancher's primitive lifestyle. The Fains cared for several thousand sheep. They moved to Muleshoe Ranch in the desert some fifty 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. In 1935, the Fains moved to Yeager Canyon, near Mingus Mountain, into an 1880s house that 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. In addition, she served as Worthy Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star, aided the Arizona Boys' Ranch and worked on nationwide beef promotional 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 (Back) Fain and Norman’s grandmother, Carrie Fain, are also represented in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden.

Donor: Sharlot Hall Museum Rose Garden Committee, September 1999
Photo Located: 1923 Prescott High School, Hassayamper Yearbook, Pg. 73
Updated: 6/24/2015, D. Sue Kissel