"It’s a way everybody can remember her," current principal Crystal Morales said. "The community can come and have a moment if they need one…a ‘Joye-ous’ moment."
Johnson’s family was among those in attendance at the ribbon cutting. A plaque commemorating Johnson has been placed on the wall near the garden entranceway. Morales, who worked with Johnson for many years, said the garden has been a community effort and has been planned since Johnson’s passing.
"This is a wonderful day," said her daughter Meredith Herb. "She always said that a flower can make anyone smile, and that could be said about my mom as well. She had a way of touching the lives of everyone she met. This garden is one more way for her legacy to live on and for her to touch the lives of the children at this school."
Morales said the staff and PTSO knew they wanted to do something in her honor, "and we couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than this. Since we moved into this building, she has picked out and planted every plant and flower at the school. She did it through grants, through the outdoor science class and fundraisers because you don’t just get the extra funds for those extra things."
Morales said the middle wing was the only area not finished, which made for an ideal location for the memorial garden. She also said Dr. Sallie Brewer added pink crepe myrtle trees, favorites of Johnson, to the parking lot when it was recently repaved.
"She was the best friend I ever had," Brewer said. "I miss her and think about her everyday. I talk to her everyday. She loved her flowers, and this is a great living memorial to her. I think we already have one living memorial to Joye - and that is this school (Carver)."
Brewer said Johnson used to come by in the summertime to prune the gardens because she was so particular about it and wanted it done to her expectations.
Frances Meeks, who attended the event, said she knew Johnson as a parent first when Meeks was a teacher to her children. She said she lobbied for Johnson to take the principal position at Carver and maintained a friendship with her.
"When she got sick, her doctors told her not to work in the garden because she had lung problems and it had to do with being around dirt," Meeks said. "Well, you know she didn’t listen. They (friends and family) guarded her very carefully about that, so she was caught in the school parking lot, under the streetlight, weeding her pansies at 2 o’clock in the morning. She was just that dedicated about it, and every flower had to be tended to - just like the children."
Donations and fundraisers took place to create the garden.
Contributions to the Joye Johnson Memorial Garden Fund can be made at Carver Elementary and will go toward continual care and maintenance of the memorial garden.