County mourns loss of ‘Miss Agnes’

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

“Miss Agnes” Johnson once said you never know what life has in store for you.

“One week, I was up motivating myself and the next week they were pushing me around in a wheelchair,” she said recently after being diagnosed with cancer.

“Miss Agnes” passed away Wednesday night and, while she was accepting of what life had in, it’s not as easy for those she left behind.

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“Agnes touched so many lives that all of Pike County is feeling the loss,” said Tammy Powell, retired Pike County Extension coordinator. “Agnes had so many talents, so many varied talents, and she was willing to share those special talents with people of all ages.

“She was dedicated to the sewing classes at Extension office and to the sewing guild. Agnes was a good teacher … and she brought caring skills to whatever she was teaching.”

Johnson volunteered with different areas of the 4-H program and took an interest in all children.

“She was interested in her grandchildren, and she was just as interested in somebody else’s children and grandchildren,” Powell said.

“She wanted to help young people learn and grow, and she did.”

Johnson was a strong supporter of the Pike County Steer and Heifer Show.

“She didn’t just take pictures of her grandchildren and their animals, she took pictures of all the kids,” Powell said. “That’s just the way Agnes was. She wanted everybody to do well and for everybody to be recognized.

“Agnes was a good person and you felt good when you were around her. She will be missed in so many ways by so many.”

Betty Hixon, past president of the Pike County Cattlewomen, said Johnson was a longtime and valued member of the Cattlewomen and will be missed in more ways than she can count.

“Agnes’ talents were many and she readily shared them with the Cattlewomen,” Hixon said. “She sewed the banners for our rodeo pageants, and she donated needlework items for our auctions. She made sweatshirts many of us. Agnes never said no to anything and she never wanted to. Doing for others was what made her happiest. She was a blessing to all of us.”

Perhaps, there’s no place that “Miss Agnes” will be missed more than at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, where she was a longtime volunteer.

She was training Martha Freeman to lead school groups at the museum’s Demonstration Cabin.

“Agnes knew so much about the past and she was a wonderful example for all of us,” Freeman said. “She took me under her wings at the hands-on history cabin. She had a way with children. She knew just how to get them asking questions, and the right questions.”

Freeman said Johnson didn’t just show the children how things were done in pioneer times, she told them stories that kept her teachings in memory.

“She would tell the children how the people bathed in a tin tub in water they had ‘toted’ from the spring,” Freeman said.

“She would tell them that all members of the family bathed in the same tub of water and ask them who would get to bathe first and they would always say the baby and be so surprised when Agnes said, no, the daddy.

She told them the baby bathed last. That’s where the old saying, ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’ came from. She taught in a way that children enjoyed and remembered.”

Freeman said Johnson’s could talk to the children and still know exactly when to turn around and take biscuits out of the oven of the wood burning stove.

“She was a remarkable teacher and a wonderful person,” Freeman said. “She brought history to life for hundreds of children and they will remember her fondly.”

Shirley Blankenship, also a museum volunteer, said Johnson lived the life she taught the children about.

“Agnes had a world of knowledge and, if you stayed around her very long, you learned a lot,” Blankenship said.

“She had the ability to take children through a day in the life of a pioneer child and have them fascinated by that lifestyle. We will never be able to replace ‘Miss Agnes’ and we will always keep her in our memory.”