Oct. 3, 1925-Jan. 21, 2022

Let’s go back to where it all began. It was Oct. 3, 1925 that the life and legacy of Mrs. Irene Johnson would be set in motion and woven into the fabric of our lives. She was the third of eight children born in Natchitoches to the delight of the late Mr. Coleman Johnson and the late Mrs. Ivory Richards Johnson.
It was a household steeped in Christian principles, a strong code of ethics, staunch family values and plenty of love. These teachings guided Mrs. Johnson’s decision to become a drum major for the Lord and accepted Christ as her Savior early on. She was water baptized in Cane River and, like her family, joined St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. She served faithfully under the pastorage of the late Rev. Gentry Davis Sr., the late Rev. Pompy M. Gillie, the late Rev. Julius Charles and current pastor, the Rev. Leo Walker Sr.
Mrs. Johnson was blessed to meet, and later married, a handsome and dedicated family man, Mr. Henry Johnson Sr. During their 69 years of matrimonial bond they built more than a life together; they created a legacy. To this union three precious gifts to the world were born, Gloria Marie, Doris Ann and Henry Jr.
A high school graduate of Natchitoches Parish Training School, Mrs. Johnson prepared herself to thrive professionally. As fate would have it, her employment path brought her back to where her education started. During her long and admirable tenure at Central High School (formerly Lincoln Institute/Natchitoches Parish Training School) as Assistant Lunchroom Manager and later Manager, she forged an enviable relationship with the students and staff for whom she is revered.
Mrs. Johnson had the art of southern hospitality down to a science, and took great pride in preparing soulful delights for the palate. She was the host, and her home was the hub, for out of town family and guests who would fuel up on her “down home” cooking. She is known for her “beyond delicious” jelly cakes, for which no others can compare.
To her credit, Mrs. Johnson was a devoted wife and loving mother, a guiding light in her church, a pillar in her community, a voice in the halls of city government, an ever present source of support in her neighborhood, a trust worthy confidant to her friends, unwavering strength to her family, a mentor and role model to many and provided godly wisdom whether you asked for it or not!
Mrs. Johnson’s impact has been far reaching and it can be said that she truly made a difference in the world around her. She has been recognized by her church and community for her noteworthy contributions.
~Held the distinction of being the oldest member of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church prior to her passing
~One of the founding members – St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Senior Choir
~Oldest Choir Member – St Paul Missionary Baptist Church
~Certificate of Recognition for Dedication and Longevity – St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Senior Choir
~The Oldest Mother Award – St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and Combined Choir
~Certificate of Appreciation for Love and Support – St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Combined Choir
~Honored as a “Natchitoches Treasure”; an elite group of Natchitoches residents of retirement age who have made a lasting contribution to the community through their generosity, service, volunteerism and spirit
~The Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award- City of Natchitoches
~Former member – Esther Grand Chapter, W.L. Carroll Chapter #4 OES
~Neighorhood Captain – Natchitoches Parish Voter Registration
~Grand Marshal – LNC (Lincoln Institute/Natchitoches Parish Training School/Central High School) Class Reunion Celebration Parade
~Certificate of Appreciation – Grambling University Alumni Chapter of Natchitoches
~Hibiscus Garden Club Award – Several times for her beautiful yard
There are many beautiful words to characterize Mrs. Johnson, and Proverbs 31 verses 25-30 describes her best…….”she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised!”
Mrs. Johnson fulfilled her God given purpose on earth with great dedication and commitment, and on that crisp winter morning of Jan. 21, 2022, at the age of 96, she began her eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The last of the Johnson children to reach the pearly gates, she was welcomed into her heavenly home by her husband, Henry; parents, Coleman and Ivory; and all her siblings, Oliver, Leon, Percy, James, Kimber, Orelia, Lessie Mae and Ivory Lee.
To cherish Mrs. Johnson’s memory and carry forth her legacy are her children, Gloria Marie Walker of Houston, Doris Smith of Seattle, Wash., and Henry “Hank” Johnson Jr. (Zara) of Naperville, Ill.; grandchildren, Ronald Lynn Johnson (Stephanie) of Houston, Rodney Johnson (Shelley) of Mason, Ohio, Darrien Johnson of Naperville, Toron Smith (Jasmin) of Seattle and Keestra Smith of Manassas, Va.; great-grandchildren, Bradyn Johnson, Brock Henry Johnson, Brycen Johnson, Daylen Johnson and Dawson Johnson; and a host of nephews, nieces, extended family, church family, neighbors and friends.
Mrs. Irene Johnson: A Life Well Lived
The celebration of the life and legacy of the late Mrs. Irene Johnson of Natchitoches will be observed in two commemorative services. There will be a walk-through visitation/viewing at Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home, 318 North St., Natchitoches, Friday, Feb. 4 from 3-7 p.m. coupled with a private family funeral service on the following day, Saturday, Feb. 5 at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Natchez, (formerly called the Bermuda Community). Interment in the church’s cemetery will immediately follow that family celebration.