The Duncan Banner

April 28, 2013

Bertie Geraldine Tatum Johnson

Aug. 6, 1925 — April 27, 2013

The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Bertie Geraldine Tatum Johnson was born on Aug. 6, 1925, to Bert and Haskell Tatum. She lived her life preparing for her heavenly home, and God welcomed her to His kingdom on Saturday, April 27, 2013.

Geraldine was born in Greer County, Okla., and was the firstborn of six children. Her siblings called her Sissy, a name that endeared her to nieces and nephews as Aunt Sissy and to grandchildren and great grandchildren as Ma Sissy.  

She graduated from Duke High School in 1943. After graduation she and her sister, Babe, went to Denver, Colo., and sang professionally. There they became good friends with Red Foley, one of the biggest stars in country music during the post-war era. After two years both girls returned home. Sissy would continue to sing where she felt most called – the church.

In 1946, Sissy’s big brother brought home his friend, a handsome sailor who had just returned from World War II.  Wendell Johnson couldn’t help but notice the dark-headed, beautiful sister of his friend, and a courtship evolved.  

On Aug. 31, 1946, the two were married.

A little over a year later the couple’s first child was born and named Eddie Wendell. Two and a half years later a son, Rexie Dale was born. In the years that followed, Geraldine and Wendell made church a priority in their family. Geraldine continued to sing, taught Sunday school, and worked with both the youth and ladies ministries.

In the late 1960s, Geraldine decided to go to college and graduated from Texas Tech University in 1971, with a degree in elementary education. The next 15 years were devoted to teaching in Ralls and Smyer, both small Texas towns.  

Following retirement Wendell and Geraldine moved back to their Oklahoma roots and settled in Marlow. They had a blessed life with a loving church family and an ever increasing extended family.  

On Dec. 31, 2010, Geraldine lost her soul mate of 64 years.  Her only surviving child, Rex, moved her to Austin, Texas, to be near family.

In addition to her husband, Geraldine was preceded in death by son, Eddie Johnson, grandson Justin Dale Johnson, her parents, three brothers, and one sister. She is survived by her son, Rex Johnson and his wife Patti of Austin, one sister Yvonne Castleberry of Mineral Wells, her daughter-in-law Becky Johnson Armstrong of Snyder, one grandson Reid Johnson of Austin, and five granddaughters: Mandy Slaton of Lubbock, Julie Bynum of Snyder, and Misty McNicholas, Cassidy Wilkinson, and Kaitlin Davis all of Austin. She leaves a legacy of eight great-grandchildren: Jackson Slaton, Devin and Kendra Bynum, Kaden and Conner McNicholas, Wyndsor Wilkinson, Xach and Jack Johnson and another great granddaughter due in October of this year. She is also survived by a host of friends and other relatives.

Geraldine claimed Psalm 51:10 as a favorite Bible verse, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  Another verse that marked her faith, especially in the difficult trials of her life, was 1 Thessalonians 1:2, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Perhaps the verse that best speaks for her now is 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me …”

Visitation at Christian Life Church, Austin, Texas, will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, with a memorial service following at 7 p.m. Interment will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, at Marlow Cemetery in Marlow.

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