Betsy JohnsonJuly 23, 2017
Pianist, horticulturalist, and church organist Elizabeth (Betsy) Fewell Thomas Johnson, 77, joined the church triumphant on Sunday, July 23, 2017, comforted by the loving embrace, music, and scripture readings of her family, at her home. Betsy was born on September 26, 1939, in Gastonia, N.C., and was baptized at, confirmed at, and a member of Clover Presbyterian Church.
The daughter of the late Thaddeus Martin (T.M.) and Elizabeth (Lib) Fewell Thomas, Betsy grew up on her family’s York County farm and at an early age showed strong musical talent. After graduating from Clover High School, Betsy earned a B.S. degree in piano performance from Winthrop College, an M.A. in music theory from the University of South Florida, and studied conducting under Eleazar de Carvalho of the Sao Paolo Symphony, Brazil. After teaching in Florida, Betsy returned to Clover in 1976. Upon her return, she taught piano for almost forty years and served as a church organist and choir director for several decades. She most recently was Music Director at St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ in Maiden, N.C. In her musical endeavors, Betsy felt blessed by her many talented students, congregants, and their supportive families. She was very proud that many of her students received full music scholarships to college.
In another expression of Betsy’s quest for beauty, as a child she began collecting native azaleas in the woods around her family farm. Her passion eventually grew into an extensive knowledge of specie azaleas and horticulture generally. She hybridized and patented new varieties of azaleas, including Calvary’s Love. Betsy enjoyed helping people plan and plant gardens that beautified their homes through her landscape nursery business, Oak Hill Farm.
Betsy is survived by two brothers, three daughters, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. While Betsy will be deeply mourned, her family finds comfort in the assurance of the resurrection and the sure knowledge that she precedes us to heaven.
The family will receive friends from 6 - 8 P.M. on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at M. L. Ford & Sons Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 11 A.M. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, at Clover Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Dr. Douglass Key officiating. Betsy will be buried privately at Beth Shiloh Presbyterian Church, as she wished to rest beside her beloved grandmother, Jannette Shillingl aw Fewell, who was also a pianist and church organist.