OBITUARY

Johnette Oden-Brunson

January 30, 1961January 6, 2019

Jacqueline Johnette Oden-Brunson was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 30th, 1961, daughter of John Albert Oden and Elma Jean Grigsby Oden. As her older sister, Jamie Ramsey, described, “she came home that day as my present”, and Johnette has been a gift to the world every day since. Her family moved to several homes across the country growing up, including Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Miami, Florida, and finally Little Rock, Arkansas. While there she attended Central High School and was an active student, from serving as an officer of the High Steppers drill team to working a lively job at Swenson’s ice cream shop, and finally graduating Salutatorian of her class.

Johnette studied at the University of Arkansas where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English in 1983. It was there she also found her other “sisters” through her sorority, Chi Omega. She was a deeply loved member, mentor, and sister to this group of women, and was honored to be chosen as Vice President for the chapter. Johnette was also grateful to return to the University of Arkansas in 2016 to celebrate the renovation of the Chi Omega house and reconnect with several of her old friends.

After deciding to pursue law, Johnette moved to Dallas and earned her Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University in 1986. She began her career as a lawyer with Chantillis and Morgan. In April, 2000, she went in-house with Crossmark where she eventually rose to the position of Executive Vice President General Counsel. She was not only a devoted member of the executive team at Crossmark, but she was also a leader, mentor and friend to so many there.

No one was more dedicated to her work than Johnette; however, she directed that energy several times over into pouring her heart and soul into her family. Beyond being a loving daughter and sister, she treasured he role as an aunt to Melody Pearl and Andrew James Ramsey. One of their favorite early memories is that she made a little library of children’s books for them. The library came in a case that Johnette had colorfully decorated herself, and for each book there was a cassette tape on which she recorded herself reading aloud for them. That way, Aunt Johnnie could read books to them every night, even when she wasn’t physically present. Johnette also had a special relationship with Melody and Andrew’s father, and Jamie’s husband, Tad Ramsey, or lovingly known as “Tad Dad” because of his dear help and support to her particularly during the first few years of Hannah’s life.

Johnette’s most treasured role was that as a mother to Hannah Victoria, born November 30th, 1995. She counted Hannah as one of her greatest blessings in life, and the bond they shared was indescribable. She loved Hannah fiercely, and was her Superwoman every day. Johnette encouraged Hannah through every dance recital, piano competition, and school event big or small. She taught her daughter through example how to be smart, strong, loving, and accepting of others, but most importantly how to love and believe in herself. In 1999, Johnette’s parents, John and Jean, moved to live with her and Hannah in their current home in Rowlett.

Johnette gave love freely, and love had a way of finding her in return. She met Kirk Brunson while working at Crossmark, where they constantly connected over the coffee pot. Through their work together on several transactions, Kirk began to realize that Johnette was not just a typical smart lawyer, but a wise, pragmatic businessperson and counselor who knew how to apply the law. Even more, he came to know her as an intelligent, sassy and beautiful woman who unlocked a part of him that he hadn’t even known existed. They began dating in October of 2002, were engaged on New Year’s Eve, and married just six months later on June 7th, 2003. They shared the kind of love that’s unimaginable until you witness it yourself; he lighted up her life like no one else, and Johnette saw too how he was the perfect dad to Hannah. Johnette and Kirk encouraged each other in every aspect of their lives, spiritually, occupationally, intellectually, and emotionally, and shared more memories in their 16 years of marriage than most are fortunate to share in a lifetime. Through Kirk, Johnette was also blessed with her mother-in-law Patsy Brunson, sister- and brother-in law Lori and Johnny Walls, and nieces and nephews Chris and Amanda Brunson and Grayson and Lauren Holt.

Johnette lived every moment of her life to the fullest, and her immense love extended to several special passions. Johnette loved film, an interest sparked when she watched and discussed “The Deer Hunter” in an English course with a treasured professor. While she loved re-watching old favorites such as “Sense and Sensibilities”, “Pride and Prejudice”, and “Love Actually”, one of the weekend activities she looked forward to most was going to see a new movie with Hannah and Kirk, followed by a film discussion over coffee at Starbucks on the way home. Johnette and Kirk even won a trip to attend the American Film Institute Festival in L.A. in 2015, visiting red carpet events during one of their most memorable trips together.

Johnette loved to travel. She saw the world through a beautiful lens and not only wanted to experience as much of that beauty as possible herself, but wanted to help others feel that joy as well. From California to New England, the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, snowy mountains to sandy beaches, she would go everywhere with her family and friends, and always had another trip lined up around the corner. However, she had a special love for the ocean. The beach house she and Kirk shared on Topsail Island was her sanctuary, and she looked most at peace when curled up with a cup of coffee overlooking the waves and watching the seagulls and pelicans.

Johnette loved animals. She had a particularly fond heart for strays and those in need, and there was no animal too large, small, or broken she couldn’t care for them. Her first loves were her dogs Jester and Roxanne, but over time that love extended to countless cats, horses, cows, gerbils, a bird, and even honey bees. At times there were too many animals in and around the house to keep track of, but Johnette’s love only grew to match.

Most importantly, Johnette loved the Lord. She trusted in Him completely and lived her life in daily mission service to honor him. Many of these things were visible – teaching for many years in Awanas and young women’s bible class, mission trips to a South African HIV orphanage and home rebuilding in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, and dedication to the Christ-based charities International Justice Mission and World Vision. But, most of her mission work was privately counseling and supporting young women and others in need. During her life she shared the love of Jesus and helped many find or strengthen their faith in Him.

Johnette is survived by her husband, daughter, mother, sister, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, two brothers-in-law, three nieces, and four nephews, as well as several animals and countless friends. She loved all, and she was loved by all.

Services

  • Celebration of Life Saturday, January 12, 2019
REMEMBERING

Johnette Oden-Brunson

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Cecilia Morgan

January 15, 2019

I have known JJO since the mid-1980s when she interviewed with me for a law clerk position. I had the utmost professional and spiritual appreciation of this lovely soul. She impressed me from the beginning with her tales of Bill and Hilary and maintained that Arkansas democratic spirit throughout her life. I have especially enjoyed seeing Jean, Hannah and JJ over the years at our annual Christmas party. She has been a fixture in our life. I was privileged to attend her wedding at Old City Park and help dress Hannah; it was a glorious affair! With this shocking news of her passing on to Heaven, I am reminded and will always appreciate a gift she gave to me at one of the times when our professional lives went in different directions. I will always be reminded of Johnette as I look at my wall: she gave me a gift of a plaque with Romans 8:38 and 39: "For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." My sympathies to Kirk, Hannah and Jean. We have lost a great Christian professional woman.

Your Friends at CROSSMARK Canada

January 14, 2019

It is a great sense of loss and our hearts are truly saddened. Johnette was a compassionate and authentic leader and always willing to support those in need. Her genuine and kind spirit will forever be missed. Our heartfelt condolences to the family. Wishing you strength and solace during this difficult time.

Steve and Angie Brunson Eshelman

January 12, 2019

Kirk,
There are no words to express how saddened we are by your loss. Please know that you and Hannah and the entirety of your family are in our prayers.
Much Love to you Cousin,
Angie and Steve Eshelman

Sheila & David Karch

January 11, 2019

Kirk, we are so sorry for your loss. There’s nothing we can say, or do, to ease your pain but we are keeping you, Hannah and your extended family in our prayers. God bless you all during this difficult time and in the months to come.

Sheila & David Karch

Abbey Fay

January 11, 2019

I never got the pleasure of meeting Johnette but through the memories shared here and the stories told by her husband Kirk, it’s clear that Johnette was an amazing and well loved woman. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this time.

Greg Gomel

January 11, 2019

Johnette has always been a great person to work with at CROSSMARK and I enjoyed her positive spirt and charming personality. My condolences to her family and know she will be missed by many.

Alain Gelineau

January 11, 2019

Kirk,
You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Our most sincere condolences.

Alain Gelineau & the AD3R Team
Montreal

Dr Dana Allen

January 11, 2019

I met Johnette in 7th (as memory serves!) grade in our math class. She sat beside me, I introduced myself and we became friends. I thought she was a delightful and loving person and even though I haven't seen her in many years, I will miss her. May the Lord bring you comfort at this time.

David Tanger

January 11, 2019

I was not blessed with the opportunity to meet Johnette in person, however I feel as if I have known her for several years. The everlasting impact that she has made on Kirk's life resonates every day and in almost every interaction that I have with Kirk. Kirk has never been shy about praising Johnette's impact on him and he always radiates with love when he speaks of her. They had a special bond, a special love and an incredibly strong relationship rooted in their love of God. I pray that the time they had together as a couple and as a family with Hannah and the many wonderful times that they had together will give Kirk and Hannah the strength to carry on and to celebrate Johnette's life until they can meet again in heaven. God may have called her home to heaven, but her light and spirit will still be with us as it shines through Kirk and Hannah.

Steve Schuckenbrock

January 11, 2019

I have been honored to work with Johnette for the past four years. Her passion and compassion for people and her unwavering commitment to “doing the right thing” provided inspiration to all who worked with her. I am grateful for her leadership and will miss her.

My heart goes out to those that knew her best especially her family. I pray that her pride and love for you will be comfort to you on the road ahead.