Margaret Mays Johnson

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

As we celebrate Margaret Mays Johnson’s ninety-two years of life following her peaceful passing while asleep late Friday afternoon. In light of coronavirus, family and friends are encouraged to wear masks at her graveside service were held Monday afternoon at 3:00 PM in Morningside Cemetery, Rochelle.

Born in Fort Lauderdale, she was the eldest daughter of Cleo Mays and Inez Lamar Mays.

Known for her strength and determination, Margaret was the original Steel Magnolia. He mother passed at age eleven, and contracted blindness in one eye at age seventeen. She adapted and became a loving second mother to her younger sisters, Marie Keys and Beatrice Pittman, during the challenging years of the Great Depression.

Putting family first, she supported her father’s decision to move the family to Georgia during her teenage years. Though she would forever be a Florida Girl, she left her beloved beach and extended family. Her family settled in Wilcox County, Georgia where Margaret met her soon-to-be husband of fifty -eight years, Walter Johnson. He was the love of her life, and she certainly knew what it meant to “Stand by Your Man” long before Tammy Wynette came along. She and Walter supported each other in the family’s entrepreneurial endeavors. They first opened a barbershop, and later they established the Johnson Fence and Monument Company, which continues today under the direction of Mark Harden.

Despite her visual impairment, she was an avid reader and stressed the importance of education to her children and grandchildren. She wanted her family to get the education she couldn’t, and they did. She woke up at 4:30 AM each morning and drove over 120 miles round trip to her job at Robins Air Force Base. She oversaw purchasing and put her organized, no-nonsense-attitude to work, so that her children, Earl and Beverly, could have a premier education. Both attended the University of Georgia, and both obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Margaret was fascinated with geography at a young age. She promised herself in retirement that she would travel, and she saw the world. Her travels tips include the following: 1) don’t ask for ice in Paris: 2) don’t ask to use the restroom in Rome: and 3) the most beautiful sunrise in the world is off of the Hawaiian coast.

When she wasn’t traveling, she was seeking out restaurants with the best salad bars, sweet tea, and desert platters within a three-hour radius of her hometown of Rochelle. A “doctor’s appointment” in Macon was often just an excuse to eat at S&S Cafeteria (but only on Riverside). Her idea of a well-rounded weekend included: 1) a Friday night catfish platter at Cedar Lane: 2) a Saturday morning blow-out at Jean’s Beauty Shop in downtown Rochelle; and 3) her Ruth Sunday School Class followed by Worship at the First Baptist Church of Rochelle, where she was a devoted member. A believer, Margaret found comfort in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
She was a caretaker to both her family and the community in her involvement with the WMU. She prepared meals with her signature biscuits for the sick and home bound during retirement. She also joined the Golden Vices choir, where she perfected the art of lip-synching (singing was never her strong suit, and she would not mind us saying so.). She loved learning about gardening through her membership in the Alberta Crummey Garden Club.

He greatest pleasure in retirement was spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. “Mema” was equal parts alibi, confidant, and ATM. More importantly, she helped develop a sense of responsibility. “You can do as you like…but” signaled the immediate need to change course or plans. Her second favorite adage was “Time is Love” and it’s the greatest gift you can give someone.

Margaret is survived by her children: Earl W. Johnson and Beverly Johnson Wood (Sammy. Grandchildren: Casey Wood )Elizabeth), Jeff Johnson (Anna) Whit Wood. Great-grandchildren: Brooks Johnson, Bryce Johnson, Sydney Johnson, Caroline Wood, Sam Wood and Charlotte Wood.

Margaret’s favorite song was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and as we celebrate her trip over the rainbow, the family requests donations in lieu of flowers to First Baptist Church of Rochelle or Morningside Cemetery Trust, P. O. Box 156, Rochelle, Ga. 31079.

Frazier and Son Funeral and Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements.

Please sign our online registry at