Loudilla Johnson passed away in May of this year. I just found out about it on Friday and I can’t even remember how I found out—must have been doing a Google search on something to write about here. That something wasn’t going to be about Loudilla, but now it must be, because I find this news to be very sad.
This is what happens when you haven’t seen someone in over 40 years. You lose track of time and you get out of touch, but I wasn’t totally out of touch with Loudilla and her sisters.
In the photo, that’s Loudilla on the left, Loretta in the middle and Kay on the right.
If you’re thinking the Johnson Sisters have something to do with my Country Music days and my brothers back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, you’re right. The Johnson Sisters were presidents of Loretta Lynn’s fan club, presidents of The International Fan Club Organization (IFCO) and presidents of Tri-son Promotions. These co-presidents, these sisters, were three of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I always had a big crush on Loretta. She had a great sense of humor and was always a lot of fun to hang out with. Despite the fact we hadn’t seen each other in decades, we still sent emails back and forth sometimes. I remember calling her around her birthday in November of 2008. Loretta, like always, was a hoot and it was a hell of a lot of fun talking with her. It would be my last communication with her. She died in April of 2009.
In July of 2011, I decided I wanted to write a column about that crush I had on Loretta in CityBeat. Before I did, I decided to contact Loudilla and/or Kay to let them know what I was doing—wanted to run it by them first. I got ahold of Loudilla early that month and we talked for over an hour on the phone. It felt good to reconnect. When “Lovesick” came out, I sent her and Kay a copy of it.
On my refrigerator at home, for years, I’ve had an old, beat up photo of my brothers and I with the Johnson sisters. Those CityBeat magnets are keeping the photo from bending. I’m the brother down there sitting on the floor with Loretta. This was taken in October, 1972 in Nashville. I’ve just recently found another picture that was taken with them from 1969. I’m going to be adding that one to the refrigerator today. While I haven’t seen any of the sisters in decades, they have never been gone from my heart.
You know, the older I get, the more I come to realize that death is just a part of life. I accept that mostly, but more times than not, it makes me sad and I wish I could turn back the clock. Of course, wishing doesn’t make it so.
Kay, I’m so sorry for your lost. Loretta and Loudilla, rest in peace my dear, old, wonderful friends.
(Image of Johnson Sisters from whisnews21.com. The refrigerator photo was taken by my son)