Ova Irene (Rene) Johnson Garriott was born August 13, 1914 in Streator, Illinois, firstborn of eleven children, to Oren Ray Johnson and Goldie Elizabeth Morgan Johnson. Irene’s early years were spent helping out with chores on the farm, minding her 10 siblings, and enjoying school. She plowed fields with Sam and Jack (the mules), and later operated the Fordson steel-wheeled tractor to till the fields. The week after graduation from Tampico High School in May of 1932, Irene began studies at Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana to become a teacher. She was on campus from May 1932 until September 1933 to obtain her “2-year” teacher’s license. That fall, she began teaching at the one-room Waskom school, grades one through six. On October 10, 1937, at Tampico Baptist Church, she married her childhood sweetheart, Ronald, who has been waiting for her in heaven since February 3, 1979. Irene died at age 105.
“Rene and Ron” moved from central Indiana (Scottsburg), to the southern Indiana area by 1948. While in New Albany, Irene completed her B.S. degree in education in 1960 from Indiana University. By August of that year, Ron had been employed by DuPont Corp for several years, and was transferred to Old Hickory, Tennessee. The family moved to Gallatin, Tennessee, followed by moves to Covington, Indiana 1969, and to Hendersonville, Tennessee in 1974.
During her 29-year teaching career, Irene taught in a rural one-room school and in junior high schools in Indiana and Tennessee during the astronauts’ moon-landings. She taught math, history and social studies in classes which often included one of her own children. Perhaps her proudest accomplishment was the $1000 pay raise she helped negotiate for the teachers in Sumner County, Tennessee. She retired from teaching in 1976.
Irene was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma. She was a Sunday School teacher for many years, retiring in December 2005 from teaching the Loving Hearts class at Gallatin First Baptist Church where she is still a member. She is also an Associate Member of Tampico Baptist Church. Irene was known for her depth of knowledge of Old Testament prophets. Her hobbies included sewing, traveling, reading biographies, playing piano, and writing descriptions of events in her life. Rene’s greatest joy was hosting family reunions with her children, their spouses and grandchildren, often at Christmas. She made outstanding cookies and candies. She is remembered as a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother, saving mementos of her children’s lives for them, making quilts for all of them, and writing letters to show her love.
Surviving Irene are her children: Randall Garriott (Joy) of Alabama, David Garriott (Patsy) of Texas, Rona Garriott Loweth (Carl) of Iowa, and Denise Garriott Werner of Nevada; 7 grandchildren; 9 great-grand children; 2 sisters, Ruth Hunt of Seymour, Indiana, and Donna Bryant of Salem, Indiana. Her husband Ron, Denise’s husband Jim, eight siblings, and just about everyone else she knew predeceased her. Memorials may be made to Tampico Baptist Church ℅Adams Family Funeral Home, or to Gallatin First Baptist Church, 205 E Main St., Gallatin, Tennessee 37066.
Visitation is from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at Adams Family Funeral Home, 110 E. Howard St., Crothersville, Indiana with Mike Corbin of Gallatin, Tenessee conducting a celebration of Rene’s life at 11:00 A.M. Burial will follow immediately at Crothersville Cemetery. There will be a luncheon at Crothersville Baptist Church, 305 E. Howard St. at 1:00 P.M. after the burial.