Olea Ollie Haymon Johnson left this earthly realm 03 Jun 2020. Her house of clay, her bars of bone, finally freed her soul. And she made a grand, loud entrance into her heavenly home, welcomed by the One she faithfully served.
She was born 11 April 1928 on Bird’s Creek in the Artillery Range (now Fort Polk, LA) to Willie and Viola Haymon, her Papa and Mama. Olea never came to terms with the eviction of her family from their home and their land at the hands of the U.S. government. Her family, along with other families of the Range, left their homes, their farms, their cemeteries, their schools, their memories in 1940. Camp Polk came into being as they left this land, by order of Eminent Domain. She married Alton Ray Johnson, Happy, as everyone knew him, on 26 Oct 1946. They were married after Happy’s return form the South Pacific and the Island of Bataan. She remained by his side until his death on 12 May 1999. Together they raised four children: Harold Ray, Alton Randolph “Randy”, Cynthia Renea “Cindy” and Bobby Lee.
She became a grandmother in March 1971 and refused to be called any derivative of grandmother. When her first grandchild learned to talk, she attempted to teach her to say “Olea” but this child sounded her name as “Odie”. And that is what she was called by the kids that followed the first one. She became Odie to many others, children and adults, alike. Odie was definitely not even close to grandmother and she liked it just fine!
Odie loved God, His house and His word. She loved the old Testament, especially the tabernacle of God Jehovah. She loved Israel and she was able to visit the land of scriptures in her later years. She loved her house and longed to be home once again; she loved black coffee; family and friends were always guaranteed a cup of coffee with a little heavy whipping cream when they visited her home; she loved cornbread and milk; her Bible of choice was the King James Version and she loved that book; she loved prayer meetings and church. Oh, she loved Church! Her prayers for her family and friends have ceased but the impact she had on the lives of all she touched has not. She had a green touch, not just a green thumb; she canned whatever she grew, and she shared the bounty of her garden with the people around her. She loved the color red; she loved the touch of gold. She loved our land of freedom. She loved her husband, she adored her children and grandchildren. She loved to hear about the kids her grandchildren were raising, making her a great grandmother. She simply loved and loved with fierce passion. She loved beyond her borders. She was Odie. She was Momma. She was Sister. She was a friend. And to some she was Sis. Odie. Whatever, she was called, she was who she was and make no apologies. She was strong and independent. And tough!
Her life’s work, the goal of her existence, as a daughter of the Most High is found in II Timothy 4:7-8. Hear this scripture found in the King James Version “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is a crown of righteousness, which the lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but all them also that love His appearing.”
Odie fought a good fight. Always with deep conviction and lasting zeal, she fought. She started the course, this walk with her Lord in 1954. And she has indeed finished the path He set before her. She walked the course with the One she considered her Redeemer and her Lord. She kept the faith. Above all else, through all the storms, the trials, through her good days, her happy moments, her tears and her laughter. Her faith was steadfast; it was what sustained her; it was enduring; it lasted until her last earthly breath. At that moment in time, at 2:16pm on 03 Jun 2020, her faith became reality when she crossed Jordan’s mystic foam. Her crown was ready and waiting for her. And it was given to her on that day, the day of her homecoming, by the king of righteousness. May we follow her example. May we continue the fight until the end; may we stay our course; may we always be found faithful. May we look for His appearing. May we gaze toward the East, keeping our eyes on the sky and our hearts longing for Him.
She will be missed; as will her chicken and dumplings, her mayhaw jelly and strong coffee. Her advice will be missed, both the solicited and the unsolicited. All of us got advice! Her love will be missed. Her prayers will be missed. Her unique outlook on life will be missed. Earth was not the some when she arrived. Heaven surely won’t be the same with her now there.
She was preceded in death by her Mama and her Papa. We feel sure they met her there, on Heaven’s bright shore. She was preceded in death by her husband, Happy Johnson. She was preceded in death by her brother, Lloyd, and his wife, Louise, her brother Elbert, and his wife, Bonnie, her brother, Ivy and his wife, Geraldine, her sister, Dollie, and her husband, Karl, and her brother in law, Bill Bolinger. She lost her son, Randy, in June 2014. One great grandson, and one great-great granddaughter preceded her in death. She met them all there, Just inside that gate. Where ever Heaven’s patio is located, she is there, surrounded by the ones she loved, drinking coffee and waiting on the rest of us. She joined the great cloud of witnesses so beautifully described in Hebrews 12:1.
She is survived by her baby sister, Willie Vee Bolinger, her son, Harold Ray, and his wife, Glenda, her daughter-in-law, Grace, her daughter, Cindy, and her husband, Bobby Joe, and her son, Bobby Lee. She is survived by her grandchildren, Jerri, Jeff, Happy, Holli, Sam, Jennifer, Randie, Todd, Tammy, Dakota, Krista and Amber. She survived by 24 great grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren. She is survived by nieces and nephews, friends and her church folks.
Visitation will be at Myers Colonial Funeral Home, Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 10:00 AM until the time of service at 1:00 PM. Reverend Gary Bankston will officiate the service. Her earthly resting place will be at Flactor Cemetery in Hicks, LA, surrounded by the earthly shells of those gone before her. But we know where her soul now resides!
Odie has arrived home. Finally. Safely. Whole. Healthy. Happy. Peaceful. She arrived home and we won’t be the same without her. Our loss is surely heaven’s great gain.