Mary Jo Coplen Johnson

May 10, 1940 – February 26, 2021

Funeral Services for Mary Jo Coplen Johnson will be 2:00 PM, Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ruston, LA.  Rev. Paul Watts and Rev. Keith Johnson will be officiating with burial to follow at Simsboro Cemetery.  Visitation will be at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Tuesday, March 2, 2021 from 1:00 PM to service time.

Mary Jo Coplen Johnson was born May 10, 1940 and she stepped into eternity on February 26, 2021. She was born to Max and Esther Coplen, the second of eight children. While still in high school, her family moved from Bernice, La to Ruston and visited Emmanuel Baptist Church. While sitting in the pew she caught the eye of the preacher’s son. Charles Johnson wasted no time in asking her on a date and from that day forward, they were inseparable. On Valentine’s Day, her senior year of high school, Mary Jo and Charles David Johnson were married. They remained in love until the end. Their love story was sweet and beautiful and an inspiration for all who were privileged to witness it.

Mary Jo was the quintessential Southern lady. She was classy, sweet, smart, nurturing, dignified, funny and strong. A striking beauty, she was the faithful wife and love of Charles Johnson’s life, and a devoted mother to her three sons who were her pride and joy. Her family was her priority and life’s work, and in it she excelled. Her boys and grandbabies never doubted for one minute that they were loved. She kept her boys in line but she would fight a bear single handedly (and the bear would lose) if anyone messed with them. Mothering came naturally to her and extended beyond her boys to her siblings, her nieces and nephews and later to her daughters-in-law. Called Grand mom by her grandchildren, she was intentional and accepting, always invested in their lives, asking thoughtful questions, singling each one out for attention, caring about their interests and proud of their achievements and character. The home she had devoted her life to creating was welcoming and warm for her grandchildren as well; a place where each one felt special and loved, where they could run free, be themselves and just be kids. Grand mom’s house was always ‘home base’ for her children and grandchildren.

Those who sat regularly around her table were blessed indeed since she was an undisputed culinary genius. No matter how simple the dish, it somehow just tasted better when created with her loving hands. But her skill in the kitchen was more than a gift it was her ministry and an extension of her love. Her kitchen was the center of the home. She dispensed wisdom and counsel, as well as everyone’s favorite dishes there. In addition to feeding her own family, she took it on as her ministry to prepare meals for shut ins, widowers and families in need.

Mary Jo thrived best out in God’s creation. Bird watching, wildlife and cultivating beauty from the earth brought her great joy and peace and closeness to God. She was an avid gardener and her expertise went beyond the norm. Her daylilies were legendary and her landscaping was truly a work of art.

For over 20 years Mary Jo worked for the Lincoln Parish school system; as school secretary at Hillcrest Elementary and as secretary to the Superintendent of Lincoln Parish Schools. After her retirement from the school board, she used her organizational and accounting skills in helping her son Mark start his plumbing business. She was a skilled businesswoman and was an asset and integral part in the founding of the business.

Above all Mary Jo Johnson was a woman of God who loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all her days. She and Charles were dedicated members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ruston where they faithfully served for many years.

And now Mary Jo is joyfully reunited with her beloved husband Charles, her parents Max and Esther Coplen and her sister Alice Nix.

She was a safe harbor, a rock, and ‘home’ for her family and we feel a huge void in her absence. But her beautiful legacy continues on in her three sons and daughters-in-law: Charles David Johnson Jr. and wife Kayla Armstrong Johnson of West Monroe, Keith Lane Johnson and wife Kayla Harris Johnson of Ruston, Mark Andrew Johnson and wife Nikki Wade Johnson of Ruston; Her 13 grandchildren: Alexandra Johnson Sanders and husband Rick, Coplen Johnson, John David Johnson, Haley Johnson Ortego and husband Josh, Max Johnson and wife Witni; Hannah Johnson, Joseph Johnson, Michael Johnson and wife Sarah, John Caleb Johnson, Sarah Cate Johnson, Dylan Weaver and wife Macey, Olan Weaver, and Anna Albritton; And her eight great-grandchildren: Vivian Sanders, Gabriel Ortego, Levi Ortego, Jesse Ortego and Eila Ortego, Beorn Johnson, Hayden Johnson and Grayson Johnson. She will also be missed on this earth by her four sisters: Linda Stewart, Paulette Miller, Judy Green and Jennifer Thompson, two brothers Michael Coplen and Max Coplen and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!’Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears theLordwill be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”

Proverbs 31:25-31

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