Johnnye Bell Marsalis went to be with her Lord and Savior on Nov. 2, 2011, at a care center in Abilene, Texas.
Johnnye was born to John Clifford and Fannie Hinson Bell on Nov. 12, 1922, in Copiah County, Miss. She attended Crystal Spring, Miss., schools, where she graduated valedictorian of her senior class. She attended Draughn Business College in Jackson, Miss., and then worked as a bookkeeper in Jackson, Miss., and Tennessee. She later worked civil service jobs in accounting at Greenville AFB in Mississippi and Webb AFB in Big Spring, Texas.
She married Noel Denton Marsalis on Sept. 25, 1942. Her husband was in the military. Over a number of years they lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, France, Germany and Texas. She and her husband started their own business in Big Spring, Texas, in 1959.
During the next 32 years she did bookkeeping for several companies they owned. She served a term on the Civil Service Appeals Board for the City of Big Spring and served for numerous years on the Board of Directors of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association.
Johnnye was a member of the First Baptist Church of Big Spring, Texas, for 38 years. During her membership, she served on various committees, including the budget and finance committee. After retirement, she and her husband traveled for a number of years and then began spending falls and winters in Biloxi, Miss. There, they joined the First Baptist Church of Biloxi, Miss. Upon settling in Abilene in 2001, she was unable to attend church due to her husband's health, but faithfully watched First Baptist Church in Abilene on television.
She is survived by her husband of 69 years, Noel Denton Marsalis; son, Denny Marsalis and wife Angie of Abilene; and daughter, Carolyn Morris of Georgetown. She had five grandchildren who were her most precious treasures, Carolyn Marsalis of Lubbock, Mike Marsalis and wife Karla of Austin, Ty Bethel and wife Emily of Conroe, Amber (Marsalis) Young and husband Bert of Kemah and Melynie (Marsalis) Chavez and husband Jesus of Abilene.
All loved their Mama Johnnye dearly and will always treasure memories of a wonderful grandmother. She was blessed with 15 great-grandchildren. Johnnye is also survived by one sister, Vivian Miller of Rustin, La.; one brother, Clifford Bell of Crystal Springs, Miss.; two brothers in law, HB (Buddy) Marsalis and wife Willene and Billy Marsalis and wife Maria; sister in law, Geraldine (Sis) Williams; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She leaves behind a loyal companion, her poodle, Prince.
The family would like to thank Sears Methodist Hospice, Windcrest Alzheimer's Care Center, Visiting Angels and the staff at ARMC for their assistance and tender loving care.
There will be a visitation at Elmwood Funeral home — located at 5750 Highway 277 in Abilene — at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, with funeral services immediately following at 3 p.m. Services will be officiated by Pastor Ernie McLean. The family will have a visitation at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, at Stringer Funeral Home with burial at Harmony Cemetery in Crystal Springs, Miss. Graveside services will be conducted by Dr. Stan Weatherford.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the building fund at Elm Creek Baptist Church — 6110 FM 89, Tuscola, Texas 79562 — Sears Methodist Hospice or a charity of your choice.