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Johnnie Claire White-My Momma Passed Away

This is the obituary I wrote beside my Momma’s hospital bed as she lay there sleeping awaiting her departure to a new heaven, and a new earth- a place where there is no sickness, no walkers, no wheel chairs, no nursing homes, and no bill collectors; A place where you can worship Jesus and walk hand and hand with him. She said she was afraid of dieing. The nurses told her that morning she was passing away.


I held her hand; I massaged her feet that she said had fallen asleep. I put a hot moist washrag on her forehead. I watched her struggle to breath. She asked me to sing to her. Momma is the only person who ever asked me to sing to her. I have often sang to her as we drove from one smoke school to another or If I took her on a Sunday stroll. There in the hospital bed in my Momma's last hours, I sang and sang. I sang Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling- ,my favorite hymn. I sang Get

out your can, hear comes the garbage man. I sang Amanda, the Light of my Life. I sang every Mearl Haggard and Waylon Jennings song I could remember.


I thought about the first thing I remember about her. I was 5 years old. We were deer hunting over the Mississippi River levee near Vidalia, Louisiana. The woods around us were tall proud bottomland hardwoods. We were sitting alone against a red oak tree on the edge of a gravel-logging road. I could hear a pack of walker and blue tick dogs running a deer in our direction. I was excited because my Grandfather, Roddy White was blowing a police whistle and running the dogs. We sat there next to each other. I felt like it would be this way forever. Momma had given me a plastic gun. It shot ping-pong balls about 7 feet. The deer was about 100 yards ahead of the excited dogs. The doe snapped a dead limb and jumped into the logging road. The blood and adrenalin rushed through me. I screamed “Shoot Momma.”


 She would not shoot the doe. She said that it was illegal. So I shot the doe with a ping-pong ball and the doe ran and jumped across the road and into the woods. I jumped up and chased the doe. Momma yelled, “Come back Butch!” I kept running. She yelled, “Come back Butch! - There are lions and tigers and bears out there!” I came back- wouldn’t you?


She looked at me from her hospital bed. She asked me if I remembered the plastic gun. I said that I did. She said I am scared of dieing.


“I know Momma. Don’t be afraid. When you see the light, just walk toward it. Reach out and touch the face of Jesus. You will see a new heaven and a new earth. You wont need that old nursing home. You can throw away that walker, cane, and wheelchair. You will have a new body. My daddy and my grandmother will be waiting there- just across the river.” I cried then like I am crying now with tears on this keyboard. “I Love you momma..”


“Momma, when you see my Daddy, tell him how much I miss him and all the tings we did. Tell my grandmother, Roe that I love her and miss her. And momma, if you see my dog, Blue- the one you gave me when I was five.; the black German Sheppard dog that I had for nine years. If you see Blue Momma, tell him to come back.”


Momma smiled and touched my cheek. “I will son.”


I wrote this obituary while she was resting. When she woke up I read it to her. She liked it. Momma stopped struggling to breath at 5:30 AM. She looked rested and peaceful.


Johnnie Claire White Whitlow August 3, 1926 to April 18, 2005


Beloved Wife, Mother, Keeper of the store, and Deer Hunter

Johnnie was a peacemaker. Johnnie was born in Minden, Louisiana. She was the second daughter of Lois Harp, a schoolteacher, and Roddy White, a logger and a mule skinner- we never met a mule Roddy could not ride. Johnnie was a member of the United States Olympic high diving team in 1946. She dropped out of the Olympics because she was homesick and did not want to leave her momma. She was a student at Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where she majored in Physical Education. She dropped out of college and married George Wesley Whitlow in her senior year on February 17, 1946. George was a Marine Corp Veteran serving in the South Pacific during World War II.


Johnnie and George had two children, George Artie “Butch” Whitlow (Washington Indiana) and John Roderick “Ricky”


Whitlow (Columbia Louisiana). They have four grandchildren, Erin Whitlow Thomas (Titusville Florida), Bryan Davis (Baton Rouge), Jennifer Whitlow (Baton Rouge, and Heather Whitlow (Washington Indiana).  Johnnie has two great grandchildren- Koleman and Kollin Whitlow (Baton Rouge). Johnnie had five brothers and sisters. Shirley White Sievers (Hebert), Roddy White JR. (Clarks), Sharon Hartley (Clarks), Cindy Morris (Riverton), and Donna Thornhill (Shreveport).


Johnnie loved people. Her favorite job was interior decorating, where she would come into your house and design your carpet, curtains, and room color. She loved meeting with and visiting people. This talent led her and George to open a second hand store in Clarks Louisiana in 1969, after George retired from the Monroe Louisiana Police Department.


From that moment on, the Whitlow phone never stopped ringing. The store Nu-ta-U attracted long time customers from Caldwell and all surrounding parishes right up till it closed down in 2002. People sold Johnnie merchandise after funerals, weddings, spring-cleaning, when they moved, and after garage sales. They all trusted Miss Johnnie; she always let people name their own price. After someone died, Miss Johnnie would clean out the house and take out the garbage. This all was included in one price.


She and George wore tee shirts that said we buy junk and sell antiques. They saw value in both things and in other people that others could not see. People came to Nu-ta-U from miles around to search for bargains or simply to visit, drink coffee, or eat lunch from one of the many customers who donated time and food for pleasure. Most people just flocked around the potbellied stove to listen to Johnnie and George tell yarns. More deer and fish were caught at that stove than any other place on earth. The first store was in the old maintenance shed and car lot belonging to the Clarks Lumber Company. Later Johnny moved the store into the old one-room school she attended as a child. She and George traveled on many weekends to flea markets in Canton Texas, Arcadia Louisiana, or Natchez Mississippi. They became well known by all the merchants, who would help unload the truck and trailer to get the first peak at the antiques and collector’s items. During the flea markets they often got 2 or 3 thousand customers a day. Her motto was to double her money. Johnnie was an honest woman. Once she found $1400 in a sock drawer of an old chest of drawers. She gave it to a surviving nephew of the deceased man.


Johnnie loved to deer hunt. She killed more deer than most men I know. She was a marksman. She took several bucks including an eight point and a ten point. She broke all the rules when hunting. She sat by huge bonfires. She sat on the ground. She did not like tree stands. She read pocket romance novels on the stand. She drank hot coffee from a thermos bottle, She ate peanut butter loges that crunched real loud, and she talked with whoever would sit on a stand with her. She used a Browning Sweet 16 gauge shotgun. She was a great mother and a friend. We love her and we shall miss her.


Funeral arrangements are at Riser Funeral Home in Columbia at April 20, 2005 at 10:00 AM and graveside services at the Garden of Memories in Minden, LA at 1:00 PM.


The funeral service was held Wednesday at Risers Funeral home in Columbia, Louisiana, the parish seat of the parish that Momma loved- and where she spent most of her life living, fishing, deer hunting, and running the store. Everybody knew Miss Johnnie.



We laid Momma to rest there in the Gardens of Memory in Minden. She lies there next to my Daddy on a hill where you can see the trees in the background and feel the cool soft breezes. There were lots of beautiful flowers for her grave. Flowers of many different colors. Momma loved flowers and colors. Not far from that hill there was a watermelon patch. Daddy told me that he and Momma were in high school, they stole watermelons from that patch one night. The farmer came after them shouting and shooting a double barrel 10-guage shotgun into the air. He caught us. He said he would give us all the watermelon we could eat if we would just stop stealing them. Daddy said he never ate another melon form that patch- all the fun was gone.


I heard some funny and touching stories about Momma from some of the folks there.


The lawyer story.

“Miss Johnnie came to see me in my office. She said she had someone she wanted to file suit against. I asked her who and why. Miss Johnnie said they insulted her in front of her customers and they kicked her Dalmatian Dog, Toby. She said her dog was expecting.


The next day I went to Nu-ta-U, Miss Johnnie’s secondhand store. I asked a few questions and looked at the dog. I found Miss Johnnie at the desk where she kept the cash register. I told her there was not too much to go on and that her dog was not expecting. Miss Johnnie exclaimed, How do you know, are you a vet?


No Miss Johnnie, but that is a male dog.



Nelma Perkins, Winnsboro Louisiana


I grew up in Clarks with Johnnie. We were ridding double on a bicycle peddling up and down the hills where old Bethel Road now is. I know now that I had heatstroke. I did not know it at the time. We were 9-years-old. I fell off the bike. Your momma picked me up off the gravel road and pulled me into the shade. She laid me down against an old oak tree. She walked down to the icehouse. They used blocks of ice back then. They sawed them with a saw. There were ice shavings like the sawdust you would find in a lumber mill. Johnnie bent down and scooped up the ice dust and filled her skirt with it. She came to me and coated my face and body with ice. She saved my life- ain’t no doubt about it. And for the next 70 years, she never let me forget about it. If we had an argument, she would say, “Hush, I saved your life.” I would say I know you did and I am glad of it.


Well that is the way my Momma was. She always gave of herself all that she had. I will miss her.

At my request, the preacher sang this old hymn at Momma's funeral



Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He's waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Words & Music: Will L. Thompson


Thank you for blessing my life, Thanks for coming to smoke school. Thanks for reading my stories.




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