Myrtle Smith Johnson
Myrtle Smith Johnson, age 87, died Sunday, Feb. 21, at her home in Eufaula following an extended illness.
Born in Marion, Alabama, on May 3, 1933, to the late Loyd Clifton Smith and Sadie Tucker Smith, Myrtle grew up on a farm in rural Perry County during the Great Depression. She reflected fondly on her childhood in which she learned cooking, sewing, raising chickens, gardening, and tending cows from her hard-working, resourceful parents. In 1955, she graduated magna cum laude from Judson College in Marion and received the Judson Bible award by faculty who described her as a "lovely, modest Christian." She later earned her Master's degree from Troy University.
Myrtle moved to Eufaula in 1956 when she was hired by the Eufaula City School System to teach business math. It wasn't long before she caught the eye of the love of her life, Ashton F. Johnson, her husband of 53 years, while taking her students on a field trip to Eufaula Bank and Trust Co. where he worked. They were married July 7, 1957. Myrtle was a devoted wife and mother, staying home to care for her young family until she returned to teaching in the late sixties. Shortly after returning to teaching full-time, she was one of the first teachers at the new Admiral Moorer Middle School, where she taught pre-algebra and algebra. She chaired the math department and chartered the National Junior Honor Society, serving as its faculty sponsor until she retired in 1993. She touched many lives during her career and took a special interest in her former students, many of whom still speak fondly of their days in her class.
A lifelong Methodist, Myrtle was a member of Eufaula First United Methodist Church for over 60 years. She was also an active member of the Guild. She was empathetic toward others, which was evident in the way she cared for elderly family members and friends. She loved having her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren at her house, especially on the holidays. Her banana pudding and roast beef were always a hit. "GrandMyrtle" could always be counted on to sew costumes, help with homework, cook a special birthday cake, run countless errands, and provide a safe harbor and snack after school.
Upon retirement, Myrtle enjoyed helping her husband with their yard full of daylilies, doing needlepoint, and collecting art that reminded her of the farm that she grew up on. She loved sitting on her porch, watching the world go by, visiting with family and friends, and catching up on the "town news." Although her last few years were clouded by dementia, she still had a sparkle in her eye.
Myrtle was preceded in death by her husband, Ashton Ford Johnson. She is survived by her three children: Evelyn Kay (Mark) Whaley of Eufaula, Richard Ashton (Annette) Johnson of Eufaula, and David Loyd (Jennifer) Johnson of Lugo; five grandchildren: Laura Elizabeth (Chris) Vinson of Birmingham, Ryan Marcus (Chelsea) Whaley of Atlanta, Kathryn Crosby Johnson of Asheville, James Ashton Johnson of Atlanta and Laura Beth Robinson of Dothan; and three great-grandchildren: Blake Vinson, Emily Vinson, and Alice Whaley.
The family would like to thank Myrtle's devoted caregivers: Kelly Brown, Linda Griffin, Van Hawkins, Kristy Howerton, Jo-Anna Moseley, Mindy Spears, Christina Young, and the staff of Encompass Hospice for the love and compassion that they showed during her illness. A special thank you to Caty Richardson and the respite care team at Eufaula First United Methodist Church's Connections ministry, which greatly improved her life, and to all who sent cards, called, mowed her grass, and lifted her up in prayers.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests considerations for memorials to the Connections ministry at First United Methodist Church in Eufaula (101 E. Barbour St.), Judson College in Marion, Alabama (302 Bibb St.), or East Alabama Humane Society in Phenix City (712 13th St. E.) or a Humane Society of your choice.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, February 23 at 1:00 p.m. at Fairview Cemetery with Dr. Ken Bush officiating and Chapman Funeral Home directing. Due to ongoing COVID concerns, those in attendance are reminded to wear masks and socially distance.