Barbara Wycoff Johnson, 91, beloved sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother went home to our Lord on March 21, 2019. She was born June 15, 1927 in Aurora, IL but spent her early years in Spartanburg, SC. She attended Mary Washington College, the University of Virginia and the University of Tennessee, majoring in Journalism. She left South Carolina and moved to Orlando where she met and married her husband, Donald A. Johnson in 1947.
She had two sons, Terry and Michael in the 50’s and, in addition to her motherhood duties, became involved with the First Baptist Church in Orlando. She was at the forefront of faith-based women beginning to share the message of Christ with other women. She began a weekly Bible Class in the 1960’s which grew to over 350 women in the Orlando area, together with a weekly radio program. She later founded the organization, Total Life Ministries. In an article by the Orlando Sentinel in 1979, she described her class as … “open to all mainline denominations…and it’s the cords of love that bind us together”. She was known as an engaging and convincing speaker and she recorded for the Tim LaHaye and Henry Brandt Cassette Tape Ministries, with thousands of tapes distributed worldwide, (with shipping help from her husband). She participated in a national Christian speaking tour for many years and was Chairwoman for the Women’s Committee for the 1983 Billy Graham Crusade. She wrote several books including “Count it All Joy” and “Pathway to Prayer”.
She was always physically active and, with her husband Don, she became one of the first women in Orlando to take up water skiing. In later years, she and Don enjoyed a second home in Waynesville, NC where they played golf and bridge with friends each summer. She was also one of only an estimated 50,000 women in the US to ever score a hole-in-one. She enjoyed entertaining and an invitation to her dinner parties were always welcomed. She is survived by her siblings, Ed Wycoff, Nancy Brown and Suzie Bailey, her sons, Terry Johnson and Mike Johnson, three grandchildren Heather Crawford, Matt Johnson and Jeremy Johnson and three great-grandchildren, Trip Crawford, Emerson Crawford and Everett Johnson.
A celebration of Barbara’s life will be held at 1:30 PM on Friday, March 29, 2019 at the Highland Funeral Home at 3329 E. Semoran Blvd., Apopka FL 32703. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Westminster Retirement Communities Foundation, 80 W. Lucerne Circle, Orlando, FL 32801, or online at www.westminstercommunitiesfl.org/make-a-gift.
They say that sibling relationships end up being the longest of all. And when you grow up and old together from childhood, like I did with my sister Barbara, you really share a ton of memories.
Being with Barbara since she was a little girl, we passed through several of life’s compartments together. During the 1940s, I was the only boy, in a house full of three older sisters. It was both a tough, yet a delightful experience. Their job was to look after me and my job, as I understood it, was to pester them. We enjoyed a wonderful, warm, lively, Norman Rockwell-type of Christian home together in South Carolina.
During those WWII years, we moved to Tennessee where Barbara and my father worked at the Oak Ridge defense plant. After attending the University of Tennessee for a couple of years, Barbara, along with our father, drove to Florida to see if Orlando would be a good pick for a new family home.
Soon after we settled in Orlando, all the boyfriends began to drop by our front porch. It wasn’t long before they became husbands and continued to hang out on our front porch. Barbara arranged for a charming wedding to Don A. Johnson at Orlando’s First Baptist Church. Every aisle of the church was adorned with a gorgeous live orchid (courtesy of our uncle who lived in South America). Barbara and Don were later blessed with the arrival of two boys, Terry and Mike.
As our families matured, Barbara became my water skiing buddy, my trusted advisor, my Bible teacher, and a loving aunt for my children.
Later on, Barbara founded Total Life Ministries and focused on applying the Bible to women’s issues. She was certainly a pioneer for up until that time few women spoke on the topic. Barbara was in demand as a conference speaker all over the country for a number of years. Hundreds of women attended her programs and she was once honored to open a Billy Graham Crusade in Orlando with a prayer.
Barbara was also author the popular book Count It All Joy, which became a Christian best-seller. Bible classes all over the country were blessed by her teachings and with her materials. Then, with a busy schedule of speaking
engagements planned, her life took a dreadful turn.
It fell on me to be the one who discovered Barbara after she had endured a major stroke, just hours before one of my visits to her place in 2002. Unbelievably, she was in bed-ridden convalescence at a care facility for 19 long years afterwards. But Barbara’s unshakable faith in her Lord, and strength of character, enabled her to carry on like a saint. She joked about her condition and hardly ever complained.
My wife Pat and I visited with Barbara frequently during her more difficult years. She was remarkably cheerful, articulate and maintained a positive attitude throughout her ordeal. She would often say “I am simply praying for a miracle.”
There was an amazing incident that occurred during our last visit with Barbara, before the Lord took her home. It will always be the highlight of our memories of her. In the middle of a conversation, she shocked us with a big grin as she asked Pat “Am I dead yet?” Startled, Pat could only respond “I don’t think so.” Barbara began to laugh at her silly question, which turned into several moments of her giggling. Then, all three of us broke down laughing. She had seen the humor of her circumstances. It was so reassuring to sense her bold confidence as she faced eternity. Barbara did indeed Count It All Joy.
“I am simply praying for a miracle”
I am convinced Barbara’s prayers were answered.
Altamonte Springs, FL
Edgar B. WycoffAltamonte Springs, FL
Learned so much from Barbara going to Bible study on Tuesday mornings at the Salvation Army chapel on W. Colonial Drive. This was in the late seventies, so memorable. I can still hear her voice ,amazed at how much she could bring out the lessons we needed from just ONE verse! RIP Barbara ❤️
ramona c hansbroughlongwood, FL