Lynette Marie Brissey Johnson - Titusville Herald: Obituaries

Lynette Marie Brissey Johnson

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019 3:00 am

Lynette Marie Brissey Johnson died in the early hours of March 8, 2019, at her home in Spartansburg. True to form, she did as she pleased, and chose International Women’s Day to make her exit from this world into the next. Born on Cox Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, on Oct. 19, 1944, Lynette was the daughter of the late Lynette Irene Vaughan Brissey and Edwin Neil Brissey. Edwin was an Army Air Force pilot during World War II. He was declared missing in action on the 4th of July, 1945, and his body was never recovered. She was also preceded in death by her younger sister Nancy Susan Black. Following the death of her father, Lynette was raised by her mother and both sets of grandparents in Parkersburg and Salem, West Virginia. An ardent fan of her parents’ home state of West Virginia, God help anyone foolish enough to make a hillbilly joke in her presence.

 In her early teens she moved with her mother to Columbus, Ohio, where she was to meet the love of her life, Malcolm Joel Johnson. She was a graduate of Upper Arlington High School in Columbus, and attended Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky. Her career there was cut short when she was expelled in 1964 for championing the rights of African American and LGBTQ students who had been denied the ability to continue to attend. She and Malcolm, with whom she shared her birth date, married in April 1965, and devoted their lives to each other and their two daughters, Amanda Jane Johnson Cox and Margaret Joel Johnson Saborsky, both of Spartansburg. After moving to Spartansburg in 1977, they quickly made themselves such a natural part of the community, most having forgotten they were not born there.

Simply put, Lynette was fierce, with a capital F. Fiercely intelligent, fiercely loving and fiercely loyal. If she was your friend, it was for life. And nearly everyone she met became her friend. How could they resist? She was breathtakingly beautiful, utterly charming, endlessly generous and wickedly funny. Ever blunt and opinionated, she could effortlessly put you in your place, and yet leave you feeling comforted that you knew right where you stood with her. Incredibly brave, strong-willed and determined, she was forever a champion of the underdog. She was insatiably curious about absolutely everything, and was a relentless questioner of why things had to be the way they were, and not the way she knew they should be. Accepted to the Parson School of Design in New York City at the age of 17, she was unable to attend due to lack of parental support. Undeterred, she used her formidable design talents and impeccable taste, along with her seemingly magical ability to create something out of nothing, to bring to life beautiful living spaces for her family, full of carefully curated antiques, beautiful fabrics and extravagant amounts of flowers.   

She worked outside the home throughout the years; managing a dry cleaning business, and as an aide in autistic support classrooms. Lynette worked for a number of years as a clerk for the Cox Family Auction, where she won many hearts with her sharp wit and disarming smile. She also served as a local tax collector, Census taker and “people counter” for Sparta Township. Lynette had an uncanny ability to uncover your entire life story with just one question. She knew everything about everybody but always kept your secrets. She finished her work career in quality control for Erie Plastics. In 1978, she was a founding member of the Spartansburg Medical Center, helping to privately raise the funds to create the thriving medical facility that exists today. She served on the sewing committee for the Spartansburg Community Fair for decades and always made herself a part of Spartansburg community affairs. 

Her greatest pride and abiding joy came from watching the successes of her beloved daughters and their children, Rachel Louise and Leah Irene Cox, of Pittsburgh, and Logan Joel and Lucas John Saborsky, of Spartansburg.  She adored her sons-in-law, Steven Eric Cox and Jonathan Eric Payer, as well as a small group of devoted friends she made her family. She was the boldest and brightest personality most of us will ever have the privilege to know, and leaves behind a legacy of living large and loving big. She goes home now to fulfill her deepest desire of meeting her earthly father. Lynette wished for a minimum of fuss at the end of her life, choosing to be cremated and buried in a simple wicker casket. The family thanks Askins Cremation Funeral Services for their part in making that wish a reality, and they also wish to thank Community Nursing Services for their excellent Hospice care over the last year.

An informal celebratory wake will be held at the home of her daughter Margaret in Spartansburg on Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m. All who knew her are welcomed to attend. The family asks friends and community members to consider making a donation to the Clear Lake Authority,  P.O. Box 222, Spartansburg, Pa., 16434. Donations made in Lynette’s name will be used to place playground equipment at Clear Lake Park.  

Titusville, PA

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