Claude B. Johnson, 94, of Ruleville

Claude B. Johnson, 94, of Ruleville, MS died on February 28, 2018, at Walter B Crook Nursing Facility in Ruleville. She was born on July 4, 1923, to John W.Beasley and Etta Terry Beasley of Copiah County. She married Andrew Leon Johnson and they moved to Ruleville in 1954.
Mrs. Claude, Granny, or Maw, as she was affectionately called, lived a very full, interesting, and blessed life. She was a member of First Baptist Church Ruleville for over 60 years, sharing her talents and loving heart in many ways. She was well-known and loved for her rich contralto voice not only in FBCR choir but throughout the Delta. Mrs. Claude, her daughter, Lyle, and granddaughter Brandi sang a blend of 3-part harmony as The Three Generations. Yet her most request was her solo rendition of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”…”and not just at Christmas”, she’d say. A lifelong Bible scholar and teacher, she taught young and old. Because of her huge heart for the sick, elderly and underprivileged, her favorite class were her shut-ins, her “Special Angels.” Also known for her strong belief in angels, she felt one of her greatest compliments was when Arnold Luciano said, “When God reached down to the choir to pick an Angel, He’d pick Maw!”
Her smooth voice and love of music led to a very successful career as a lady Disc Jockey with her popular radio show, Mrs. Claude, for stations WDRU in Drew, and for WDSK in Ruleville and Cleveland. A newspaper article with her picture proclaimed—“First and Only Woman Radio Personality — Mrs. Claude — WDSK!” She ended each show with a poem by Emily Dickinson that became her motto to live by. “If I can stop one heart from breaking … if I can ease one life’s aching or cool one pain … or help one robin into his nest again … I shall not live in vain.”
A true Southern lady, Mrs. Claude was known for always wanting to look her best. And anyone spending even a brief time with her knew that she was a Storyteller, a rare and almost extinct Southern art. In her treasured “Memory Box” is a Certificate dated 1961 awarding Mrs. Claude Johnson “the prestigious honor of being the Winner as the Master Story Teller of the State of Mississippi.”
In the ’60s, Mrs. Claude was the proud owner of The Ruleville Gift Shop. Always a lover of beautiful things, her most prized possession was her Angel collection, given to her from friends and family through the years. Also known and admired for her brilliant mind and sharp memory … even until her death ... she could recall the history of each one, who gave it to her and when!
The next chapter in her life was probably her favorite — as “Granny” for the Baby Boomers of the Delta. She and Mr. Andy or Paw, as most called him, hosted the Youth Center in Ruleville during the ’60s and ’70s. As Marianne Carver Clark wrote to her recently: “Wow..I get excited just thinking about our fun times there!” Another wrote: “Thanks to you and Paw for dedicating and sharing yourselves with us…and for putting up with all of us!” Mike Gibson recently wrote: “Happy Birthday Granny—to the prettiest and sweetest lady in Ruleville, who has been a mother, counselor, and role model for so many in the Delta … who has been a blessing and a privilege to have known.”
May God in His amazing grace and power … and in the awesome way that He uses His people keep touching lives through her legacy.
And May Her Beautiful Presence Be Always With Us.
Mrs. Claude is preceded in death by her husband, Mr. Andy, and four sisters.
She is survived by two daughters Jan (Stewart) Hammons of Greenwood and Lyle (Jerry, “Jabo”) Ward of Cleveland; sister, Margaret (Edgar) Pace of Pearl; eight grandchildren, Lisa (Hank) Roberts of Carrollton, Bill (Tiffany) Hammons, George Hammons of Greenwood, Ben (Alicia) Herring of Flowood, Rob (Wendy) Holladay of Madison, Brian “Bozo” (Rachel) Ward of Leland, Brandi (Brett) Hyatt of Edmond, OK, and Dusty Ward of Cleveland; eighteen great grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren. She adored her family.
The family wishes to give special thanks to Dr. Cosue and to the healthcare professionals at Walter B. Crook for their dedicated service, care and compassion.
Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church. 367 N Ruby Avenue Ruleville, MS 38771
Arrangements were by Williams and Lord Funeral Home.

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