Martha Nell Johnson

Tuesday, 13 February 2024 17:35

Martha Nell Johnson Featured

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Martha Nell Johnson was a caring wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. She left this world peacefully on February 9, 2024, at age 84.

Martha was born on August 10, 1939 at her home in Pocola, OK to Arlie and Viola Johnson (yes, Johnson was also her maiden name). Her best girlfriend and partner in crime growing up, her sister Theresa, came along two years later. The two were joined at the hip from then on. They shared all the sisterly ups and downs over the years, but never wavered in their loving bond.

Martha graduated from Spiro High School in 1957, but before she graduated, she met her best friend and the love of her life, L.D. Johnson. On September 7, 1957, they married and spent the next 66 years building a strong and beautiful marriage. To watch Martha and L.D.’s love— to see the tenderness when they held hands or when L.D. helped Martha from the car, to hear Martha yell “D!” when he was being ornery, to watch L.D. dutifully and proudly carry Martha’s purse from slot machine to slot machine at the Choctaw casino—was to witness true love firsthand. Today, we know their love story continues in heaven.

Martha worked in her parents’ purse making business while Carla and Mark were young. She cut out leather purses with them playing at her feet, under her watchful eye. As time went on, her children began bringing home friends, and with L.D. coaching high school sports, she found she enjoyed helping young people in whatever capacity she could. This eventually led her to a career of over 20 years at the Kiamichi Economic Development District of Oklahoma, helping teenagers and young adults find meaningful careers.

To generations of family—and friends that felt like family—Martha and L.D.’s home was always filled with laughter, joy, and love. Ever present were L.D.’s players, Carla and Mark’s (and then the grandkids’) classmates, and a vibrant social life full of beloved friends. Martha always had a hot pot of coffee, a sweet treat, and great conversation at the ready. When no one was looking (and sometimes when they were) you could find Martha and L.D. dancing in the kitchen to a George Strait song.

The pride of Martha’s life was her family. She was a loving mother and an adoring grandmother whose love language was her constant presence and support. If her kids or her grandkids had an event, she was there. Rain or shine, Martha could be found sitting in the first row with a beaming smile spread across her face, cheering herself hoarse, her pride on full display. L.D. coached all across the state for 30 years, and no one in the family can remember Martha missing a single game. She was his biggest fan, and she wouldn’t have missed a moment. Martha had that skill where, even in a crowded room, she could be completely present with you, hold your hand, look you in the eye, and make you feel like the only person in the world. Her single favorite activity was to sit around the table with her whole family and share a meal she had prepared. Those meals were full of stories, laughter, and a little too much fried food. (Now that she’s gone, her family has generously agreed to share her “succotash” recipe in exchange for a good Martha and L.D. story.).

Martha’s life was also marked by her abundant faith. Martha came to faith in Talihina, Oklahoma. L.D. was in his first job as a coach, and they would clean the Talihina First Baptist church at night for extra money. In Talihina and far from home, their young family found a loving and welcoming community of faith, and Martha devoted her life to Christ. Martha lived out her faith with devotion and spent a lifetime modeling the definition of Christ-like love and generosity. In her later years, her church home was Spiro First Baptist, and Martha and L.D. loved being a part of the “Prime Timers.” This lively group of church members in the prime of their lives enjoyed potlucks at each other’s homes, Christmas caroling, Branson trips and other activities. These were always special times to Martha. Martha also enjoyed being a member of the church sewing group and especially loved the friendships and fellowship they shared while creating beautiful quilts.

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, February 16 at 11:00 am at Spiro First Baptist Church. Viewing will be Thursday 9:00am - 7:00 pm. She is survived by her sister Theresa Votaw and husband Ray, her daughter Carla Kimmel and husband Rod, her son Mark Johnson and wife Rhonda, her grandchildren Christopher Kimmel, Matthew Johnson, Corey Kimmel, and Rachel Johnson, her beloved grand-dog Bentley, and her first great-grandbaby Patrick Kimmel.

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