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Ethel Pauline Johnson

August 3, 1927 ~ September 1, 2023 (age 96) 96 Years Old



Ethel Pauline “Nanny” Gragg Presnell Johnson was born to the late Walter and Ellis Gragg on August 3, 1927 in Avery County, North Carolina.  As a young woman, Ethel met and married her first true love, Carl Stewart Presnell.  Together Ethel and Carl raised three children of their own (Joseph “JC," Barbara, and Wilma Presnell) and also helped to raise Carl’s little sister (Reba Presnell).  Ethel was widowed in 1970 after Carl’s untimely passing.  Ethel later remarried to Chester William Johnson and became the stepmother to three children (Elmer, Denise, and Julie Johnson). 

Ethel prided herself on hard work.  She was a private housekeeper for decades, first to the Rosasco family of Valle Crucis and then to the Shipley family of Vilas.  While raising children and working as a housekeeper, Ethel also kept a spotless house, cooked and gardened. She fed countless numbers of people with delicious dishes she cooked up from food grown in her garden.  Many people remember congregating at Ethel’s home on Sundays to have their bellies filled with some of the best home cooking around.  Nobody ever left with an empty stomach.   

Over the years, Ethel’s children and step-children grew Ethel’s legacy through expanding her family exponentially.  Ethel's absence will be felt most heavily by her six children and step-children, Joseph “JC” Presnell (Brenda), Barbara Norwood, and Wilma Davis, Elmer Johnson, Denise Johnson, and Julie Auton.  Ethel will be missed by seven grandchildren she loved so much, Jodie Stoker, Marty Presnell, Ricky Norwood (Bonnie), Eric Davis (Jill), Eden Auton, Candace Auton, and Jesse Auton and nine great-grandchildren, Matthew Presnell (Becky), Madison Presnell (Josh), Joshua Webb (Arevia), Jordan Webb (Bethany), Sarah Stoker, Lily Stoker, Olivia Johnson, Abigail Davis, and Alyssa Davis. Ethel is also survived by five great-great-grandchildren, including Cody Webb, unborn baby girl Webb, Vayla Webb, Lucas Presnell, and  Kamden Hodges.  Ethel will also be missed dearly by two special sisters-in-law, Reba and Carolyn Townsend, two special nephews, David and Dale Presnell, great-niece Amanda Presnell,  great-great nephew Jackson Brown, and very special family friends Olen Humphrey and Joey Ball.  

Ethel is survived by her four sisters Rachel Norwood (Willie), Ruth Gragg, Alma Osborne (Carl), and Irene McGuire (Frank Crump), as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and other people who considered her family.  Ethel is preceded in death by her two husbands, Carl Stewart Presnell and Chester William Johnson, as well as brothers  Rome, Howard, and Dallas Gragg, and two sons-in-law Bobby Norwood and Doug Davis.

The family will receive friends Wednesday, September 6, 2023 from noon until 2:00pm followed by a service to honor Ethel's life. 

Memorials may be made to Austin and Barnes to help assist family with expenses.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at the website

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Johnson family.


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