BIOGRAPHY: The Morningside Man
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Beloved sister of James Pickett Wesberry

Lillian Ruth Wesberry Johnson

Lillian Ruth Wesberry Johnson
Mrs. Juarez Johnson, Sr, began celebrating with her birthday into eternal life on October 4, 2013.

A funeral service will be held in the Sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Jackson with burial following in Lakewood Memorial Park. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am at the church. 

Lillian was a native of South Carolina, having attended school in Columbia.

She was employed with the credit bureau of Jackson, prior to going in business with her husband. 

Being a member of First Baptist Church of Jackson, she taught fourth grade Sunday school for a number of years. 

She was a member of the W.D. Holder Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, including the Mississippi Division of Real Granddaughters. She also was a member of the James Foster Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Concerned Women of America, Sun Valley Auxiliary, National Women's Christian Union, and the American Association of Christian Counselors. 

She is the wife of Juarez Johnson, Sr. of Jackson and mother of Juarez Johnson, Jr. (Diane) of Morton; Bomar Edmonds (Billie) of Spartanburg, SC; and Jim Edmonds (Harvest) of Kilauea, HI.; grandchildren, McLeod Johnson and Caleb Johnson of Morton; Elise Cantrell (Mark) of Kohler, WI; Bo Edmonds (Ruth) of Charleston, SC; EAO Edmonds (Jennifer) of Kilauea, HI; Merlin Edmonds and Mason Edmonds both of Kilauea, HI; great grandchildren, Hannah Cantrell and Christian Cantrell of Kohler, WA; Mason Edmonds of Charleston, SC; and Isla Edmonds of Kilauea, HI. 

She is also survived by a brother-in-laws, Austin L. Johnson (Melinda) of Ohio and Gary C. Johnson (Linda) of Lexington, SC; sister-in-law, Virginia Johnson of Columbia, SC nephews, nieces and other relations including, George Folsom (Charlotte) of Macon, GA; James P. Wesberry, Jr. (Leah) of Quito, Ecuador; Bill Wesberry of Columbia, SC; Dr. Jesse Wesberry (Mary) of Memphis, TN; Dr. Patricia Wannamaker of Clemson, SC; and Pamela Wesberry of Eastville, VA. 

She is also survived by special friends, Steven Miller, Dr. Wilma Clopton, Genice Parsons, Mona McKeith and Judy Wilson. 

Along with her parents, William McLeod Wesberry and Lillian Iona Galloway Wesberry, she is preceded in death by her brothers, Dr. James P. Wesberry, Sr., Dr. Reginald E. Wesberry, Sr., and William M. Wesberry, Jr.; sister, Marguerite W. Hiers; and also by Reginald E. Wesberry, Jr., Dr. Barbara Van Der-Veur, Wesley M. Wesberry, and Dr. Fred Wesberry. 

She said she felt like "Robert E. Lee" when someone asked him for an interview to write a biography: "I know of nothing good I could tell you about myself." She will be remembered and loved by all who knew her.

Wedding of Lillian Wesberry to Juarez Johnson

Wedding of Lillian and Juarez
Marguarte Hiers (sister), Juarez Johnson, Lillian Wesberry, Sue Wesberry, James P. Wesberry

Eulogy of Lillian Ruth Wesberry Johnson
 delivered at First Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi

Lillian was blessed to inherit a wonderful Christian heritage from her ancestors and her parents.  She passed it on to her children, and grandchildren, and left her family with a wonderful Christian legacy.

Long before the American Revolutionary War, her ancestors came south with Reverend William Screven to establish the first Baptist Church in the South, at Charleston, South Carolina.

She descended from a long line of faithful Christians, several of whom were ministers.

Lillian was raised from birth in an actively christian home. She was on the cradle roll at Park Street Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina where her parents and older brothers and sister also attended church.

Lillian, being the youngest of five children, was very close to her Mother, whom she was named after. Her mother taught Sunday School and was the leader of several Christian women's organizations. Her mother taught Lillian God's Word from birth, and was a major influence in her life.

Lillian's father died while she was still young, and her older brother, Dr. James P. Wesberry Sr, became a major influence in her life while growing up. A Southern Baptist minister for sixty six years,
he built and pastored Morningside Baptist Church in Atlanta for thirty-one years.

Through their influence, Lillian accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior while she was a child.

She grew up in Park Street Baptist church and was an active member there for the first forty five years of her life, playing the piano, violin, singing solos, and teaching Sunday school.

In 1965 she moved to Mississippi with her husband Juarez and youngest son Rez. They joined Colonial Heights Baptist church in Jackson, where she taught and directed Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for five years.

In 1970 Lillian and her family joined First Baptist Church of Jackson where she continued serving the Lord. She taught and directed Sunday School here at First Baptist for twenty five years, was active in evangelism, visitation, women's ministry, and WMU.

Like her mother before her, she was a leader in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, through which she attempted to help "create a sober and pure world by abstinence, purity and evangelical Christianity."

For many years she organized temperance groups for children in Jackson, through which she taught them "moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful."

She was also a Christian activist, who left behind many files full of copies of letters she had written to her congressmen and newspaper clippings of letters she had written for the editorial section defending Christian morality.

In her latter years she took extension courses from Liberty University and received certification as a Christian Counselor.

Lillian cared deeply about people and made friends with everyone she met. Like the apostle in 3rd John 1:2, whenever Lillian visited with people, she was aways concerned about two things; their physical and mental health and their soul growth. And it was the latter, their soul growth, which was most important to her.

She knew that as important as our physical health is, we only spend a few short years here in the physical realm, but we spend eternity in the spiritual realm. For this reason she believed we must spend far more time and energy focusing on our spiritual health and preparing for eternity.

To this end she aways made it a point to look for ways she could share the gospel with people. She didn't care where she was, if people were there, she witnessed to them, even in the grocery store her youngest son, Rez, remembers.

Even among fellow christians she always eventually brought every conversation around to the comfort and victory found in life by living in obedience with God's Word.

Lillian raised and nurtured three sons in the Lord, all of whom professed faith in Jesus Christ at early ages.

Her life's number one goal was introducing her children and grandchildren to Jesus. Her greatest joy in seeing them accept Him as their Lord and Savior, and seeing them living lives of obedience and service to Him.

Her family Bible, has been owned and handed down by five generations of her ancestors. Each of them recorded, in their own unique handwriting, the birth of their children, their baptism and their parent's death. In the 1950s Lillian's mother wrote the following words in the old family bible, "Faith of our fathers, holy faith, we will be true to thee till death" and underneath that she wrote "Five generations have been faithful to this book."

Lillian inherited a wonderful Christian legacy from her Mother, her brother and her ancestors. A legacy which she passed on to her sons and grandchildren. A legacy which continues today through them and has extended to eight generations who have held fast to the truth found only in God's Word

In Lillian's obituary in the news paper Sunday, it ended with the following sentence. "She said she felt like Robert E Lee when someone asked him for an interview to write his biography and he said 'I know of nothing good I could tell you about myself." That humbleness exemplified Lillian's life. She would much rather tell you about Jesus and what he has done for her, rather than talk about herself.

Those of us who know this to be true realize that it is no coincidence that when you cut her obituary out of the newspaper, the reverse side has an advertisement that says in big letters "FREE GIFT." And that is the message she wants everyone to hear today, not about her life, but about the FREE GIFT of Eternal Life which is found in Christ Jesus alone.

Her message to you today is that God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross 2000 years ago to atone for her sins, for your sins, for our sins. And that he didn't stay in the grave, but rose to life again on the third day, and that if we accept his FREE GIFT of salvation by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, we too will rise to live in paradise with Him and our Heavenly Father forever.

For those of you who are already born again, she wants you to know that "Only God's grace is sufficient to carry you through life's storms."

One of the most important lessons she learned in life and passed on to her sons is that,  "Through all of life's trials, hardships and sufferings, God's grace is sufficient to carry us through it, because in our weakness, God's strength and power are best revealed. She believed, as scripture teaches in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, that "when we are at our weakest, we are really at our strongest, because only then do we rely solely upon God for our strength. His grace alone is sufficient."

For those of you who are struggling right now, Lillian wants you to know that no matter what you are going through in life, God loves you and will help you if you will simply trust your life and cares to Him. One of her favorite verses is 1 Peter 5:7,  "Cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

Those of you who have accept Christ Jesus as your only Lord and Savior will have a glorious reunion with Lillian one day in paradise.

She wants this celebration of her life today, to be a celebration of life in Christ, and wonderful life that is available for all who give their life to Jesus. Jesus gave his life for Lillian 2000 years ago. Lillian gave her life to Jesus over eighty years ago. Now Jesus has give her eternal life with Him.

If there is anyone here today who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, will you give your life to Jesus today, like Lillian did so many decades ago?

Christian, if Jesus Christ has ceased to be your greatest love, and spending time alone with Him in prayer and reading his Word has ceased to be your greatest source of joy in life, will you rededicate your life to Jesus today? Will you seek to live a life of holiness, in obedience to Christ, not just as your Savior, but also as your Lord?

Lillian Wesberry Johnson with Portrait of her brother James P. Wesberry and Lillian Sue Wesberry

Juarez and Lillian Johnson

Her favorite song "My Tribute"

Lillian Wesberry Johnson

At Family Reunion in 2008
Lilian and Juarez 50th Wedding Anniversary

Lyrics to "My Tribute"

How can I say thanks for the things
You have done for me?
Things so undeserved yet you gave
To prove your love for me
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am, and ever hope to be
I owe it all to thee

To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory for the things he has done
With his blood he has saved me
With his power he has raised me
To God be the glory for the things he has done
Just let me live my life and
Let it be pleasing Lord to thee
And if I gain any praise, let it go to calvary
With his blood he has saved me
With his power he has rasied me
To God be the glory for the things he has done

Lillian and Juarez Johnson

The William McLeod Wesberry Family
James, William McLeod, Marguerite, Lillian Ruth, Reginald, Lillian Iona, Tim

Mother of Lillian Wesberry Johnson
Lillian Iona Galloway Wesberry

Juarez and Lillian Johnson

Children Jim & Harvest Edmonds

Children Jim & Harvest with Great Grandchild Isla

Children and Grandchildren
Rezzie and Diane with grandchildren Caleb and McLeod

At Family Reunion 2008
Lillian and Juarez with nephew James P. Wesberry, Jr.

At family reunion 2008
McLeod, Lillian and Juarez with Paul and Nathan Wesberry

At family reunion 2008
Perry Wesberry with Lillian and Juarez Johnson

At family reunion 2008
Lillian Wesberry Johnson


Atlanta skyline viewed from Morningside Baptist

James Pickett Wesberry