Linda Madison Johnson

Tuesday, November 19, 1940 - Sunday, March 19, 2023

A Beloved Lady

Photo of Linda Madison Johnson  - 1940-2023

After a short illness, Linda Madison Johnson passed away on March 19, 2023. Now if you did not have the good fortune to know this strong, resilient, southern woman, please allow me to introduce you to her. She was an amazing mother and grandmother, beautiful at every age of life, musically gifted, hardworking, funny as hell, and someone best not to make mad.

She was the daughter of a farmer and textile worker from Guilford County, Euyles Windfred Forrest (d.1989) and Mathie Brim Forrest (d.1996). She was the younger sister of Barbar Ray Forrest (d. 2015). She met James Holt Madison (d. 2005) when she was 16 years old and he was 27, where they both were attending John Wesley Bible College. They were married in January of 1957 and nine months later, she had what she liked to call a honeymoon baby, James Craig Madison. Five years later, she gave birth to her baby girl, Joni Linn Madison. As a young minister’s wife, she got her kids ready for church, played the piano at two different morning services, had a magazine-worthy Sunday lunch on the table by 1 PM, cleaned the kitchen, and was right back at the piano to play for the Sunday evening service. During the week she raised her kids and helped make ends meet, first by running a home daycare and then as a bookkeeper for Sally’s Drugstore and Burleson’s Electric. When she was 35 years old, she found the courage to separate from her husband. Back in those days, when a minister's wife needed to leave their husband, it was a scandal. Not for the minister, but for the wife. However, this was a risk she was willing to take to get out of a relationship where she was treated with indifference. She soon became a sales rep for Music Consultants in downtown Asheville. Later, a chance meeting watering her flower pots at Chunns Cove’s apartments provided her an opportunity to sell radio media to local businesses. Although she had no prior experience in this field, it did not take long for her to become a top sales associate for WRAQ and WWNC. 

Linda had the great fortune to have a second chance at love. She married James T. Johnson (d. 2005) in 1988. This is where she found herself truly happy. They traveled, laughed, and loved each other without fail. When her husband Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she cared for him with great devotion and determination. She was his caregiver, advocate, and champion, never leaving his side during their long goodbye of 9 years.

Linda loved her children and took great pride in their careers. She instilled in them an incredible work ethic and taking pride in a job well done. She introduced them to the art of southern cooking and entertaining. Her tables were always set with starched linens, china, and fresh flowers. She took great pride in her talents as a homemaker. Regardless of the address, her homes were always beautifully decorated, clean, tidy, and company ready at any time of the day or night. She loved to cook and her potato salad, pot roasts, cornbread, thanksgiving dressing, pumpkin pies, English Trifles, and coconut cakes were family favorites. When both of her children eventually shared the news with her that they were LGBTQ, she continued doing what she had always done before, loved them unconditionally. When Joni introduced Gina Kilpatrick as the love of her life, Linda welcomed her to the family and simply requested that they pick out a china pattern. 

One of her great joys on earth was becoming a grandmother when Chelsea Madison (Chang) was born. This blessing was superseded only by seeing Chelsea marry the man of her dreams, Jayson Chang. Together Chelsea and Jayson blessed Linda’s life with two beautiful great-granddaughters, Lena James Chang and Indiana Reese Chang.

And of course, there was heartbreak. In addition to the loss of her dear husband Jim, her son, Craig died suddenly on December 1, 2021. It absolutely broke Linda’s heart. She felt that there was no greater injustice in the world than a child dying before a parent. But the universe helped put it all in perspective this past week, as it was a great comfort to know that Craig was on the other side to welcome her as she crossed from this life into the next.

We plan to celebrate and honor Linda on Tuesday, March 28th at 12:00 noon in the chapel of the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain. Burial will follow in the Veterans Cemetery. The family will receive friends at a Celebration of Life luncheon at Milton’s at the Monte Vista Hotel immediately following the service and burial from 1 to 2:30 PM.

Crawford / Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored to be caring for the Johnson family.


Condolences from family and friends

I met this lady many years ago thru her daughter. I knew she was a special person back then 1979. Every time I hear the song bridge over trouble water, I remember her playing it On the piano on a snowy December day in Asheville north carolina. Rest now and enjoy your next adventure.
Connie James
Joni, We are so sorry to here of the passing of your Mother. You and Gina have had a couple of rough months. Sending love, prayers and hugs. Sincere Sympathy, David & Janice
Janice Parham
What an amazing life. So sorry I never got to know her. Sending lots of love you way. And hugs from me and Ray and all of our crew. Love Ray and Alison
Ray and Alison Frazier
Joanie, it is time in our lives that we are losing folks that are so precious to us.. Linda and I grew up as cousins and was very close to each other.. Aunt Mathie and my mama (Frankie) were not only sisters, but, best friends. I have such fond memories of us growing up and the close bond between our families. Linda was always presenting herself well dressed, including makeup..I am sure her home represented her way of everything in place.. A first cousin I will never forget. I am offering my condolences.. ..
Sue Scott Marion
Linda was a remarkable lady. To me, the best evidence of this is her children. Both Joni and Craig have been super-achievers, with incredibly successful careers and lives. That's not a coincidence. Linda was there to teach them an unparalleled work ethic and made it clear that her love was unconditional. I like to think she and Craig are having a good time together...maybe cooking a feast or two!
Pat and Colleen Thompson