Marjory W. Johnson grew up in Bunn, North Carolina. She studied physical education at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now University of North Carolina at Greensboro) and graduated in 1943. After graduation, she went to one year of civilian physical therapy training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She also had one week of basic training at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Johnson joined the Army Medical Specialist Corps as a second lieutenant in 1944. Her first assignment was at Woodrow Wilson Hospital in Staunton, Virginia, but in January 1945, she received overseas orders. She sailed from Fort Dix, New Jersey, to Le Havre, France, on the George Washington. Her unit, the 205th General Hospital, treated German prisoners in Mourmelon-le-Petit, France. In the summer of 1945, Johnson traveled to Marseilles, France, on route to the South Pacific, but the war ended and she was reassigned to Rouen, France. After a week in Rouen, Johnson secured an assignment in Bremerhaven, Germany, where her brother was stationed. She returned to the United States in February 1946 and was discharged at Fort Bragg.
Johnson worked with polio patients for the next few years, first in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and then in Hibbing, Minnesota. She attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on the GI Bill in 1948, but did not complete her master’s degree until 1964. Johnson worked in Rochester, New York, from 1948 until 1961. In September 1961, she accepted a teaching position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she stayed until retiring in May 1985.