Group dedicates tree in honor of “Randy”

By Aaron Michell
Correspondent

Members of the local writing group, Illuminovelists, along with friends and family gathered at the Marion Municipal Library on Friday, September 29th to honor and remember one of their own, Dr. Randy Rassoul Johnston.

“Randy was our matriarch,” said fellow Illuminovelist Pam Symonds. “She was our professor; she was our teacher; she was our foundation. So, we’re a little cracked but we’re going to keep going.”

Symonds, along with Illuminovelists Chris Seering and Peggy Hoard, donated and helped plant the Indian Summer Crabapple on the east lawn of the library. The tree was planted in remembrance of Johnston, who was an inspiration to many and a great contributor, advocate, and friend of the library.

 Left to right: Shelly Scott, Jack Johnston, Peggy Hoard, Pam Symonds, Will Alcorn, Chris Seering, Sue and John Thompson.

Left to right: Shelly Scott, Jack Johnston, Peggy Hoard, Pam Symonds, Will Alcorn, Chris Seering, Sue and John Thompson.

“The library board was generous enough to allow us to go ahead and put the tree up here, which was really nice.” Hoard remarked.

Librarian Shelly Scott was much obliged.

“We were so excited to get the tree – it’s going to be gorgeous,” Scott said. “It looks like it’s going to be really pretty when it flowers out; it has pink flowers. It’s going to be a flowering tree with the crab apples and the color – kind of like Randy: really colorful.”

“We’re really excited.” Scott continued, “This is a very special addition to our landscaping.”

Friends and family gathered on Friday not just to plant the tree, but also to remember the life and legacy of Johnston. The Illuminovelists and members of another of Johnston’s writing groups, Write-to-Publish, remembered many of their enjoyable times together. Most of all, they remembered Johnston’s intellect, her humility, her etiquette, and the ease with which she conducted herself.

Johnston, an internationally renowned author, had an IQ of over 165 and was fluent in five languages. But in everyday interactions, most would’ve never known.

“She was so nice, so pleasant to be around,” Scott said, “She really enjoyed encouraging people to write and it’s something that she loved and I think she wanted to pass that on to others.”

“She was very proper; very well-spoken,” Hoard said. “When she spoke – and we have an annual workshop for writers where we’d hire a speaker or two and Randy would always fill-in a spot – when she spoke, Randy would always get the highest marks. Always. She was quite a legend.”

The tree was planted at the Marion Municipal Library to honor Johnston.

The tree was planted at the Marion Municipal Library to honor Johnston.

Randy’s husband Jack discussed how casually his partner could take up seemingly difficult tasks.

“One day, sitting in the living room she says, ‘I’m going to write a story about our dog and put it in the newspaper.’ And whatever she said she was going to do she usually did it,” Jack said. “Within a short time, she was writing regularly for the Marion Press and the Osceola Pioneer and the Missaukee Sentinel. That was just her nature – she only wrote good things about good things.”

While the Illuminovelists are saddened by the loss of their matriarch, they continue to meet and look forward to welcoming additional members to their writing group. The next meeting of the Illuminovelists will take place Friday, October 13th at 12:00 p.m. in the library conference room. Anyone with an interest in writing is encouraged to attend.

Before departing, Illuminovelist member Chris Seering presented a short poem she had written in remembrance of Johnston.
The final line read: “Our Randy was a treasure to us, and to the world.”




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