I’ll Miss You Nana

June 1, 2012 Posted by David Merritt No Comments


Melba Johnson
June 29, 1925 – May 28, 2012

My grandmother was an extraordinary woman. I thank God for the life she lived and the tremendous impact she had on those around her. I’ll never forget our “erasing” sessions (Nana was a master eraser and refused to leave any remnants of lead on the paper). I’ll never forget your amazing stories (Nana was a master storyteller). I’ll never forget you. And I’ll miss you. Indeed. Here’s a closer look at Melba Johnson’s life:

Melba Johnson was born Monday, June 29, 1925 to William and Sarah Thomas, in Washington, Georgia. She was the third of seven children.

In her young age, Melba’s parents allowed her to move from Washington, DC to be raised by her father’s sister, “Aunt Lill,” and Uncle Roy in Detroit, Michigan. She received her formal education from the Detroit Public Schools and attended business school. Melba enjoyed sewing as her hobby.

After high school Melba met and married Emmett Copeland and birthed a son named Craig. Later, she married Isaac Johnson, and they had three children: Viveca (Vickey), Vanessa (Van) and Isaac Jr. (Lee). Together, Melba and Isaac celebrated 54 years of marriage!

During her lifetime, Melba worked for the U.S. Government in Washington, DC, at Zinkie’s in downtown Detroit, and as a Teacher Aide for the Detroit Public Schools. Her passion for education was evident through her professional work, and her involvement in her children’s schools and PTA programs. She strongly encouraged her children to study diligently and do their homework so they could achieve all of their goals.

The Johnson family were members of the Greater Northwest Church of God In Christ under the leadership of the late Bishop G.D. Moore. There, Melba enjoyed working with the Sunshine Band alongside the late Mother Moore. Later, she became a member of Straight Gate Church on Joy Rd., and was marvelously filled with the Holy Spirit in the “Bishop’s chair.” Melba served faithfully in the Children’s nursery at its infancy, and in the Harvesters ministry.

Melba was affectionately known to her grandchildren and others as “Nana.” She had a gift of being an amazing storyteller. Her grandchildren and many others enjoyed listening to stories of her childhood, siblings, and visits to her adored “DC.” She loved dancing to music, “shaky-shaky-shaky!,” invented the color fuchsia, and possessed a vivacious zest for life.

On Monday, May 28, 2012 at 10:34am, “Nana’s” angel came to take her Home to be with her Lord. She was preceded in death by five of her siblings, her husband Isaac Johnson, Sr., and daughter, Vanessa Underwood. Her memory will be cherished by her loving younger sister, Doris (Richard) Hackett; her children: Craig (Donna) Copeland, Sr., Viveca (Bishop Andrew) Merritt, Isaac (Tanya) Johnson, Jr.; her grandchildren: Craig Jr. (Denita), Kyra, Dana (Willie), Kelli, Justin, Christopher, Rachelle, Laura P. (Marc), Jonathan (Tatianna), David, Robine’, Charles Aaron, Stephanie, Ollen, Keisha, Isaac III, Hannah Vanessa; along with great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.

Her memory will also be cherished by a host of nieces, nephews, additional relatives, friends, and her Straight Gate Church family. A special thank you to her care team: Dr. Gwen Dansby, Victoria Johnson, Ellen Bussey, Andrea Dortch, Pat Head, Lori Thurman, Fugene and Sabrina Swain, and Henry Ford Hospice.

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