Locals remember world renowned author, friend

July 27, 2017

Local writer, professor, and world traveler, Dr. Randy Rassoul Johnston, passed away recently at the age of 83. Although she made her home along the shores of the Middle Branch, her writings and wisdom made an impact around the world.

And she made an impact locally as well — especially in the writing community. Johnston wrote for the Marion Press, the Herald-Review, and the Lake City Sentinel, among others. Johnston always supported local writers and considered the library to be a truly special place. “Libraries are magical places,” she once said, “they open up an entire fascinating world to us.”

Friends will forever be grateful for Johnston’s contributions.

“Randy got me involved in writing,” said close friend, Peggy Hoard. “We were in 2 writing groups together, and she always encouraged me. She was such an excellent teacher at whatever she did. And when she’d present, you could understand every word that she spoke.”

Some of those presentations were based on Johnston’s 2014 work, I Slept in a Pineapple. The book is a guide to historic vacation rentals in the United Kingdom and Ireland, based on her experience as an international travel agent. In recent years, she’d spent time traveling with her husband, Jack, presenting the book at libraries, book clubs, and various events.
“Her talks were wonderful,” said fellow 20th Century Club member Sharon Cutler. “[Her talks] were very interesting. We felt privileged to have her for the time we did. We were really enthused to listen to her.”

Along with being a member of the 20th Century Club, Johnston belonged to various writing groups, including Write to Publish and Illuminovelist. She was also active with the Marion Baptist Church, Friends of the Cadillac Library, and the Cadillac Art Fair.

Before living in Marion and working as a freelance writer, Johnston, who earned her PhD studying at the University of PineappleCover_1Michigan and the Universitè de Paris, was a professor of French and French literature. She also ran the international travel and vacation rental agency, MètaVoyage, out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Locally, she’ll be remembered for her intellect and professionalism, as well as her kindness and encouraging spirit.
“I met Randy through the Marion Baptist Church,” said Hoard. “She was a doctor; she had her degrees in French, Spanish and was a college professor.”

“She’s someone who could put together anything,” Hoard continued, “She put together a date book [for the 20th Century Club]. It was so professional. Everything she did was so professional.”

More importantly, her words of encouragement to the reading and writing community will not soon be forgotten.

“She had a huge heart,” said Hoard. “She encouraged all of us in the writing group; she was such an encourager. She told us to just keep writing.”

Fellow 20th Century Club members Cutler, Donna Geyer, and Patricia Michell agree that the friendship, kindness, and contributions of Johnston will not easily be replaced.

“She was very active in our club,” said Cutler. “She was the one with the committee who would assign the programs for us. She planned all of that. Recently we had a Women in History program and Women in Marion program, and she would make sure we had something every time, even if she couldn’t make it. She did a beautiful job. She was very talented.”

“She just went out there and tackled every day that went by,” added Cutler. “And she did it well.”

Friends are invited to attend a celebration of life for Dr. Randy Rassoul Johnston on Saturday, August 26 at 11:30 a.m. at the Marion Baptist Church.



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