Thelma Christine (Chris) Johnson, 80

Thelma Christine (Chris) Johnson, age 80, passed away March 6th, 2022 surrounded by loved ones. 

She was born in a coal mining camp in Fonde, KY in 1941. She devoted her life to the service of others, working in urban renewal in Middlesboro, KY, and later serving as the City Manager of Norris, TN. She later founded and ran a successful real estate business in Norris, helping people make their home in the town she loved. In work and in life, her empathy for others shone brightly. Chris’s heart was always open for those in need. Facing hardship in her own life had not hardened her– she was a well of empathy for those facing their own struggles, whether she knew them or not. 


Our mother had a deep and sustaining love of Jesus Christ. Her life was illuminated by her love of her family and friends. Her love and guidance heavily shaped the lives of her children and grandchildren. That love extended to those lucky enough to know her as a friend or those who have been taken in by her as a surrogate parent. Love in Chris’s house often meant that your favorite dessert or meal would be waiting for you if you came to visit, made with few recipes actually written down. All this heart and love was punctuated by a great wit and sharp sense of humor.


Her compassionate heart for animals meant she was always on the lookout for a rescue Shih Tzu that needed a good home–any dog rescued by Chris had won the dog lottery. For the whole season, but particularly in March, you could find Chris cheering for Kentucky basketball, in good years and bad. She was a longtime member of Norris First Baptist Church and later attended First Baptist Concord. A member of the church choir, she had a beautiful voice–you would always catch her humming a hymn around the house. She was a voracious reader of mysteries and watcher of news, and she would always be ahead of you on the latest current events. 

She made all our lives better and brighter. She is already missed greatly, but we know she is now resting in the grace of her Savior.


Chris is preceded in death by her mother, Evelyn Longsworth, and her sister, Gladys Saylor. She is survived by her husband, Herbie Johnson, and her children, Angela & Gordon Williams of Norris; Herbie Johnson III of Chattanooga; Traci Ingram of Powell; adopted son, David Peters of Nashville; daughter-in-law Mallorie Johnson Rector of Cookeville. 

She leaves behind grandchildren Tristan & Tiffany Johnson, Schyler & Dr. Haley Johnson, Elizabeth Williams & Joseph Carpenter, Brogan & Josh Boles, Alex & Rebecca Ingram. Also survived by great-grandchildren Taryn Johnson, Knox Boles, Finn Johnson, Liza Boles, and Baby Ingram, due July 2022.


Thelma’s graveside service will be at 11:00 am, Friday, March 11, 2022, at Norris Memorial Garden with Dr. Joel Dew officiating.  In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to Second Harvest Food Bank or Mission of Hope, charities both close to Chris’s heart. Holley Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton is in charge of all arrangements.  holleygamble.com

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