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Etta Ruth Johnson


1932 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Etta Ruth Johnson Obituary
Etta Ruth Johnson

Memphis, TN

Etta Ruth Johnson passed on Monday, April 24, 2017. She was born in Memphis, TN, September 11, 1932 to Sylvester Nelms, Sr. and Gladys Laster. To her marriage with Gilbert Johnson of St. Louis, MO were born Marvin, Walter Ray and Janice Elizabeth. All preceded her in death.

She has a sister, Joan Joiner and a brother, John Smith. Brother, Sylvester Nelms, Jr. is deceased. Four grandchildren: Quincy, Lawrence, Corey and Melanie Harris are parents to eleven great-grandchildren. Etta was cared for in her home by Melanie and her son Rodney Market, Jr.

Etta's lifelong enthusiasm for the performing arts began with dancing lessons at age seven, continued with ballet studies in London, developed into a theatre concentration at Michigan State University in the 1950's. Following acclaim in the role as "Ruth" in a Kalamazoo, MI production of Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun", Etta returned to Tennessee to choreograph productions for the Nashville YMCA.

Etta combined Civil Rights activity, teaching modern dance at Tennessee State University with participation in a women's golf league. Returning to Memphis, Etta received regional recognition for her work as Director of RSVP, a MIFA agency serving our elders.

Etta loved life, family and especially the youth. She channeled her near limitless energy and vivacious personality serving on the boards of directors of Beale Street Repertory Company and Memphis Repertory. She enjoyed many friendships and we will miss her.

We will remember Etta on Wednesday, May 3 from 5-7 p.m. at All Dancing Starz Studio, 627 Chelsea.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Apr. 30, 2017
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