Martha's Story

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Martha (Russell) Johnson, Ed.D, of Loudon, Tennessee and formerly of Williamsburg, passed away November 11th at age 78. Martha was born to Harrell and Frankie Russell in Grundy, VA on November 30, 1937. The daughter of a Methodist minister, she lived in several places before moving to Tazewell, VA where she met and married her high school sweetheart, Lawrence T. Johnson, during their senior year. Martha graduated as the THS valedictorian in 1956. They also graduated from Hiwassee College and Emory & Henry College while at the same time raising their daughter, Terry. Upon graduation they moved to Pulaski, VA where they began their careers as teachers. While living there they had two more children, Russell and Laura. Martha also earned her Master's degree at Radford University before a move in 1979 back to Tazewell County where Martha became a principal at two schools. In 1983 the family moved to Auburn, AL where Lawrence took a position as Assistant Basketball Coach at Auburn University and Martha obtained her doctorate degree. Martha then worked as an assistant professor at Auburn and at Huntington College in Montgomery, AL and Lagrange College in Lagrange, GA. Their next move took them back to Virginia where Martha taught at Virginia Commonwealth University and J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College. In 1994 Martha became a professor at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, KY where she was the chair of the Education Department and Graduate School spearheading the school's process to obtain state and SACS accreditation of its teacher certification and graduate programs before retiring in 2002. Martha loved teaching children and training future educators to teach children. She is a member of the Tazewell (VA) HS Hall of Fame, Faculty Member of the Year at Cumberland College and was honored by Hiwassee College with its Distinguished Service Award in 2014.
While at Cumberland College, Martha and Lawrence were members at First United Methodist in Williamsburg and helped raise funds for a fellowship hall at that church where they made many friends and at the college.
Martha is preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Bill Russell. She is survived by, Lawrence, her husband of 60 years, as well as her three children: Terry and husband, Jerry Sharpe (Columbus, MS); Russell and wife, Erin Robbins (Loudon, TN); Laurie and husband, Dan Rosenbaum (Minneapolis, MN); and three grandchildren: Kristy Sharpe Boyd (Denver, CO), Benjamin Sharpe (Columbus, MS) and Emory Johnson (Loudon, TN).
Martha's memorial service was held in the Loudon United Methodist Church on November 14th with Walt Simmerman officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Martha's memory may be made to the Alzheimer's Assoc. of East Tennessee, 1545 Western Ave NW, Suite 110A, Knoxville, TN 37921; Holston Home for Children at 404 Holston Dr, Greeneville, TN 37743 or the Tazewell (VA) HS Hall of Fame scholarship fund, POB 250, Tazewell, VA 24651.
McGill-Karnes Funeral Home, Loudon, Tennessee served the Johnson family. www.mcgillkarnes.com
Published on November 15, 2016
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