Johnella Norwood, ‘mom’ to everyone celebrates 80th birthday

Johnella Norwood, sitting center, enjoys her birthday with family. To her left is Harold Norwood Jr., son, who shares the same birthdate with his mom.

Journal Staff Writer

In 1952, 14 year old Johnella Norwood came to Toledo, from Memphis, Tennessee to baby sit for her sister Freddie Mae Millen, while she attended nursing school. The temporary visit became a permanent home for Ms. Norwood, according to her niece, Pattie Page, whom Ms. Norwood baby sat.

Irene Norwood-Rhodes, daughter, shared with The Toledo Journal that her mom, Johnella Norwood, was not only a mom to her children, but to everyone in the neighborhood.

“Growing up, I remember everyone in the neighborhood called my mother, ‘mom.’ People weren’t a stranger to her; they were all ‘darling,” Ms. Norwood-Rhodes said about her mother during an intimate gathering at Golden Corral, 5730 Opportunity Drive, on Tuesday, February 13, Johnella Norwood’s birthday.

Johnella Norwood BirthdayIrene Norwood added, “Although my mom had six children, and worked for Jeep, I remember her letting five other people stay with us because they were experiencing hard times; that’s how much my mother cared about others, and that’s why she’s deserving of this celebration.”

Christina Fletcher, granddaughter to Johnella Norwood, wanted to do something special for her grandmother’s 80th birthday. Several months prior to her grandmother’s birthday, Ms. Fletcher organized a trip back to her grandmother’s place of birth, Memphis, Tennessee, and took her grandmother. They visited her grandmother’s old house, church, school, and even talked to people that knew her grandmother. During the trip, Ms. Fletcher took pictures for a special book to present to her grandmother. Ms. Fletcher also interviewed the people her grandmother grew up with, and had them share fond memories for the special book being prepared.

“I really love my grandmother and wanted to do something special for her,” Ms. Fletcher said.

Johnella Norwood Birthday“This is so wonderful,” Johnella Norwood said. “I just thank the Lord for letting me live so long, and I thank Him for my family,” she said.