Joan Root Johnson passed away on March 31, 2019 at Somerfield Health Center in Brentwood, TN. Joan moved to Nashville, TN in 2003 to actively participate in her son’s children’s lives, as she had done with her daughter’s children’s lives in Virginia. Mrs. Johnson was born in Monett, MO on July 27, 1927. Her father was Duke Martin Root, and her mother was Della Courdin Root. She married Jesse Roy Johnson on April 18, 1947 in Waldo, AR and remained by his side until his death in 2012. They lived in Arkansas until 1963 when Mr. Johnson joined the Agency for International Development. They were posted in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic before being assigned to Washington D.C. in 1970. Joan loved to go to the art museums and sights of DC and escorted many out of town visitors and family members to them over the years.
Joan graduated with an undergraduate and masters degree for education from the University of Arkansas. From a family dedicated to education, Mrs. Johnson began teaching at 19 years of age and taught until she was 72 years old. She taught in Arkansas, Texas, Virginia and American schools overseas in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. She was a certified Family Life Education instructor and was selected as Virginia Home Economics Teacher of the Year. She won the National Kellogg Foundation/ American Vocational Association Award for teaching parenting classes. Mrs. Johnson was instrumental in establishing the Family Education Center, an alternative educational program for pregnant teenagers in Arlington, VA, and pioneered different approaches to help women finish their education. She facilitated numerous Arlington county programs to come to the Family Center so students did not lose instructional time, matched every student with a professional woman as a role model, wrote curriculum specific to the students’ needs, and engaged the community to surround the students in need. A lifelong advocate for education, Joan helped many people through school and encouraged many that weren’t considering college to decide to pursue higher education.
Joan loved to read all manner of printed material. As her friends and family well know, she was especially fond of clipping and mailing articles. Additionally, she loved to travel and toured many continents. Her daughter began to try to list all the countries to which she had traveled, but Joan’s nephew said it would be easier to list the countries she had not been able to reach yet.
Joan was active in many organizations. She was a life long member of the Presbyterian Church serving as a teacher, deacon, and elder and had been an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. She belonged to many professional organizations including Delta Kappa Gamma where she received “The Order of the Rose”. Furthermore, she was a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood whose mission is to further women’s educational opportunities after high school through grants, loans, and scholarships. Joan earned and was honored as the “2000 Person of Vision Award” in Arlington County, Virginia.
Joan is survived by two children, Steve Johnson (Carla) Nashville, TN; and Frances Ann Walker (John) of Ashburn, VA; sister Beatrice Robey of Pine Bluff, AR; four grandchildren, Rebecca Towery (Jason) of Fredericksburg, VA, John Walker (Holly) of Richmond, VA; Jesse Johnson, currently world traveler, and Joanna Prosser (Joey) of Nashville, TN; and five great-grandchildren, Ethan, Ellie, Ben, Trey, and Gavin. Her husband of 64 years, Jesse Roy Johnson Jr., and her brother, Frank Root, predeceased her.
Memorial services will be held on April 13th at First Presbyterian Church Nashville on 4815 Franklin Pike. Services begin at 2:00 at Stanford Chapel with visitation following the service at Cheek House until 4:00.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Thistle Farms, 5122 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209 (thistlefarms.org); P.E.O. Foundation, Education Loan Fund, 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312; or the charity of your choice.