Lisa Rubin-Johnson, Caritas Founder and Inspiration, Dies in Early December in Colorado
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
January 18, 2018
DENVER, Col.—Lisa Rubin-Johnson, 98, suffered a heart attack on Dec. 7, 2017, and died that same day.
Born to Angelo and Catherine Paluzzi on Oct. 3, 1919 in Rockford, her given name was Florence Louise. She changed her name to Lisa after graduating from Rockford Central High School and beginning her career.
That career included many years of service as a social worker for Catholic Charities and later as director of the Rockford School of Business. 
She was a contributor to The Observer with a column called “Workers in the Vineyard.” She is well known as a founder of the Catholic Charities Auxiliary.
Jody Deery, who was the only other woman on the Catholic Charities Board more than 30 years ago, says the men on the board “kept talking about the (foster care) kids. Lisa stood up and said ‘What you guys need is an auxiliary,’ and the men told her ‘Okay, you start one.’
“She named it ‘Caritas’ because caritas means ‘love,’” Deery says. “She never stopped dreaming up ideas ... she was our idea person.”
Rubin-Johnson’s many life events included being a cheerleader at Lincoln Junior High School in Rockford, a past-president of the Jewish women’s auxiliary and a past-president of the Women’s Writer’s Guild. 
A graduate of Chicago’s Patricia Stevens Modeling School, Rubin-Johnson taught charm and social graces to children and teens and orchestrated several style show fundraising events.
Her son, attorney John “Jack” Ferris of Denver, says, “She was a modern woman, ahead of her day. She was the catalyst for many charitable fundraisers (and) did a lot in terms of contributing to the Rockford community.” 
He said Rubin-Johnson was proudest of her years of philanthropy and of orchestrating a move by the Rockford Park District to give much-needed land to the St. Elizabeth Catholic Community Center, allowing it to expand its services.
Rubin-Johnson was preceded in death by three husbands. Her first husband was Jack Ferris, her second was Red Rubin and her third was Rockford physician L.P. Johnson. She moved to the Denver area after Dr. Johnson’s death to be near her son, who says she continued her ongoing, never-ending love of Rockford.
She was also predeceased by her parents, husbands and sisters Adele Zavagnin and Mary Paluzzi.
Rubin-Johnson is survived by her son, Jack; two granddaughters, Mariel Carino and Laura Ferris; three great-grandchildren, Brianna Carino, Wilson Ferris Wilmarth and Morgan Rubin-Johnson Wilmarth; her sister Ann Stenstrom of Kenosha, Wis.; and nieces Nancy Stenstrom of Kenosha and Kathy Zavagnin Campbell in Lake Forest. 
Her passing is mourned by the Caritas board.
“We lost a star,” says Caritas board member Deery. “She certainly will be missed.”