Wanda Florene Johnson Brown
My beautiful amazing Mom, left this world on May 6th, 6:00 pm. 2023 at the age of 89. I had to let her go, and it broke my heart. It broke all of our hearts. Mom’s family was close by her side.
Mom (Wanda Florene Johnson Brown) was born on November 23, 1933, in Dexter NM...one of a set of twins. She attended Roswell High school for three years. Mom and her family moved to California where she graduated from Polytechnic High School. Mom worked for Roswell Independent School District as a Film Librarian for many years.
Mom loved her family beyond words and was so protective of each and every one of us. What can be said about a woman who was not only my mother, but a special “Auntie” to nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, second mom to some and a “Mama Wanda” to some…. not only Auntie to her family, but Auntie to kiddos who were of no relation. Little ones gravitated to her kind sole and heart. Her next-door neighbor’s kids would come knocking on her door and wanting to visit. They would go straight to the room where she kept many books and toys for all. There were times I would walk into her living room with a room full of her nephews and little kids that I didn’t know! …but that was who she was. Mom would put on her country western music…she loved the old classic country western … and dance in the dining room by herself or with all the kids…that was a hoot!
Mom especially loved staying with her niece Cindy, and watching movies late into the night, visiting her best lifelong friend, Wanda (87 Years! Beat that!), and her husband Jim in Ruidoso, picking up Christine (lifelong friend) and riding around to their old stomping grounds; going to Craig and Doretta’s for dinner; and talking to Shirley (lifelong friend) for hours on the phone. I would ask how she could talk that long on the phone to which she replied, “Shirley and I have things to say” ...so there you go!
My mom was my best friend, my light, actually my world. We were exceptionally close. A million words wouldn’t be enough to convey what she meant to me. The love that she gave me was immense, unfathomable really. She always caught me when I fell, she was always on my side no matter what; taught me courage to stand up for myself; gave me confidence and encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be; knew just how to soothe the pain of a broken heart; and when I was little I would stand on her feet when she was dancing with me...she said I would learn the steps and the beat a lot quicker; and my mom knew how to let loose and have fun, which we did! We had many mother/daughter trips that have given me memories that will forever be in my heart and provide me with much needed comfort in the days to come. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. My mother was this rare gem that just doesn’t come along very often….and I was so blessed to have her as my mom.
Mom met her soul mate and love of her life at a dance. He was tall and handsome and from the South with this slow talking southern drawl is what she said to me. Now I have to share a story, of course… So, mom sees this good look’in guy as told to me , walking across the dance floor towards her, but this other guy made it to her first and asked her to dance whom she turned down because Dad was right behind him to which her girl friend said, “I can’t believe you just did that…and mom replied I saw who I wanted to dance with, and they danced the night away! Not finished yet…So, mom went home that night and told her mom that she had met the man she was going to marry, and that’s what happened two years later! … who does that!? Right!? Soul mates that’s who…and lucky for me! My mom and dad married on September 3, 1954. They were married for 64 years, and had one daughter, that would be me (Dorothy).
My mom was especially close to her nieces and nephews, like a grandma to them, and they felt the same way.
Cindy Ruff, her niece...Auntie was like a second mother to me. She was always there, before my mom passed and long after. She is so missed. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with her, especially these last few years.
Peter Knudsen, her great nephew…” I think I can say this for all of us. Besides my own mother, no one had a larger impact on my life. For my whole life she was always there for me no questions asked. The older I’ve gotten I realize how rare and special that it is to have someone in your life that is always there for you, and unconditionally loves you. Even though she wasn’t my grandmother she was the best grandma anyone could ask for. I truly can’t put into words how much she has meant to me. The love she gave all of us and helping raise us all. Giving us a safe place when we didn’t always have one, teaching us and showing us love every single day. She always felt like safety to me…like I knew I was always going to be OK no matter what because Auntie was always going to take care of me if something happened to me. Auntie was an amazing person and I’ll always miss her. I hope she knew how much I loved her and how much she meant to me.”
Ashley Knudsen, great niece…Auntie was the heart of our family, our safe haven. She was the person we could go to when we were sad and hurting, and the person we could share our stories with…and how she loved visiting and being with us. Auntie taught us all to be better. I’m so grateful that she was a part of my life. There is no other like her.
Little Sean, great nephew...I miss when me and Auntie would lay on the couch and watch scary mysteries for hours.”
...and there you have It. For those who knew and love her, all of these attributes are known, but for those who didn’t I just wanted all to know what a loving, giving, and remarkable human being she was. Mom will be missed beyond words. Our world will never be the same, but her spirit will always be in our hearts. I know that she is with my Dad moving across that dance floor in the heavens to some good old country music.
Mom is survived by her only child, daughter Dorothy Tarter and her husband Steve who she thought the world of. This good husband of mine helped me take care of my mom and made her the best margaritas! Mom is also survived by a sister-in-law Betty (Bitty) Vergeson of Tallahassee, FL; brother-in-law Jim Brown (Peggy) of Lanette, AL; sister-in-law Olivia Brown of Opelika, AL; nieces Cindy Ruff, Melodye LeCroy (Braxton), Denise Vergeson, and Janice Brown; nephews David Papworth (Pauline), Gary Brown (Laura), Keith Vergeson, and Jon Vergeson (Melissa). Very Special Great nieces and Nephews Ashley Owsley (Jason), Chris (Audrey), Peter Knudsen (Diana)…. and last but not least her loving great-great Nephews and Nieces, Little Sean, Little Chris...(not so little anymore), Wyatt; Eric, Grayson, Liam, Jordi, Little David, Luke, Leah, Danielle, Jeremy, Maximus, Lorelei, Anakin, Padme, Elizabeth, and Scott.
Many thanks to Frontier Medical home healthcare nurses for all of their loving care and kindness. Rich, you’re the best! No other PT would do for mom. Thank-you Dr. Adajar for your care and compassion, and all that you did for my mom. Many thanks to Sarah East (primary care). You always took such good care of my mom. Mr. Garcia thank you for all that you have done for us over the years.
Cindy and Ashley... Iove you both so much. You both have given me your love, your support, and your shoulders to cry on.
Steve, you have helped me through this difficult ordeal. You have shown my mom love, made her laugh, and helped me care for her. I love you, Husband.
Last but not least, my special Girlfriends, you know who you are! You’ve helped me survive, put your arms around me, listened, brought me food and wine, and always there for me...and those who can’t be here are calling me, supporting me, and crying with me. I love you all! Toni, you were instrumental in getting my mom into a very good rehab in Albuquerque, and then put me up for two weeks! You know I love ya!
A Gathering will be held at Ballard Funeral Home on Thursday, the 11th of May from 4:00 to 6:00 PM. Graveside Services will be held on Friday, the 12th of May 2023, at 1:00 PM. at South Park Cemetery.