Judy Johnston MERRELL

June 20, 1948February 26, 2018
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Judy Lorene Johnston Merrell, age 69, of Mt. Juliet, TN, passed away Monday morning, February 26, 2018, at Alive Hospice in Nashville after a long battle with a terminal lung illness. She is survived by her loving husband of 26 years, William (Bill) Washington Merrell, her mother Nita Mills Johnston, children, Wendy Clark (Bill Thompson), Trey Clark (Susan Clark), Chase Clark (Bridget Clark), Emily Strengers (Darren Strengers) and Brad Merrell. 15 grandchildren living in Ohio and Texas, and one 16-month-old great-grandson. Judy was preceded in death by her brother, Ricky Johnston (2016), and her father, Richard M. Johnston (2017).

Judy was born in Nashville on June 20, 1948, and grew up in Donelson, TN. She graduated from Donelson High School in 1966, having recently celebrated her 50th DHS class reunion in 2016. Judy was crowned “Miss Davidson County,” “Miss Nashville,” and “Miss Ford Motor Company,” among her many other pageant honors in the 1960s. She was a professional model throughout her adult life, and was featured by Castner Knott department store in Nashville and King Furs in Memphis, TN from the 1960s through the 1980s. Judy was spotlighted regularly as a professional model and spokesperson for numerous agencies and organizations on television, billboards, publications, and in newspapers throughout the Southeast in the 1980s.

She earned a BA degree in Art History from Memphis State University, and served throughout her lifetime with numerous boards, committees, and charity events in Houston, Memphis, and Nashville in support of her lifelong love of the arts. Judy was a member of Providence United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN.

Judy’s greatest love was her family, and she was especially close to her grandchildren, who called her “Grandmommy” or “Gran”. She had a passion for art, interior design, fashion, and music, and was a gifted designer and seamstress. She loved family gatherings full of food, games, and music, and was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and friend to all who knew her. Judy loved to laugh, she loved a good story, and to be surrounded with friends and family. Judy’s character was defined by generosity, strength, grace, inner beauty, and love.

A Celebration of Life service will be conducted on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 11:00 am at the Historic Mt. Olivet Funeral Home & Cemetery Chapel, 1101 Lebanon Pike, Nashville, TN. The family will receive friends on Friday, March 2, from 5 to 8 pm, and Saturday, March 3, at 10 am prior to the service at Mt. Olivet. Honorary Pallbearers: Tony Gaines, Jim Gaines, Rusty Gaines, Grant Gaines, Garrick Odom, Mike Hughey, Jimmy Hughey, David Polk, Janelle Ford, Teresa Bryson, Jamie Jamison, Gary Cooper, Glenn Bradford, David Weakley, and Mike Weber.

In lieu of flowers, the family thanks you for considering a donation to the American Lung Association in Judy’s memory:


  • Gathering of family and Friends Friday, March 2, 2018
  • gathering of family and Friends Saturday, March 3, 2018
  • A Celebration of Life Saturday, March 3, 2018

Judy Johnston MERRELL

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Ann Ratcliff

February 27, 2018

Robert and I send our deepest condolences to Bill and family on the loss of Judy. I knew she was one in a million from the moment I met her. Though we have not seen Bill and Judy in many years, we have many fond memories of time spent with them. It was wonderful to reconnect with Judy in recent years via Facebook. Take care and hold one another close. Ann Ratcliff and Robert Spence

Roy & Janet Murphy

February 26, 2018

Dear Bill & Family: Our hearts are breaking for your loss. Judy was a wonderful friend and we shall miss her dearly. It is good to know that she is no longer in pain and is now celebrating with her Daddy, brother and God. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all as you embark on this new journey without her. We love you, Bill.