Johnnie Sue Burleson: Angels Among Us

Written by Joann Holdbrooks

The myth that angels are among us has often been debated. It is a myth that I have always believed. So is the case of Johnnie Sue Burleson. A more pure and spotless individual never existed. Her life ended before it really started. Her childhood innocence still prevailed.

Johnnie Sue always sat beside me at the Ninth Avenue Church in Haleyville. I looked forward to seeing her each Sunday. I knew that she would be there because she was so faithful and loved the Lord. We sat together in Bible Class and in Church. Occasionally we shared a giggle or short conversation. We did so enjoy going to church. We had no idea of the ominous forboding that would separate us.

The heavy steel braces on her legs enabled Johnnie Sue to walk with the aid of crutches. They were a result of the dreaded disease, Polio, that she encountered early in her childhood. I am sure the discomfort that she experienced caused her much pain, but she never complained. She never let it keep her from her duties. She was always uplifting to others and always wore an angelic smile. This smile was a window to her soul and showed the purity of it. A soul so pure that the Lord saw it fit to call to Heaven.

In the month of January 1951, Johnnie Sue was stricken with pneumonia. She never recovered. I still remember that cold day when I was called to be a flower girl at her funeral. It was cold in the small Thorn Hill Church of Christ and my feet were numb. After the funeral we walked a short distance to the cemetery and stood while the minister offered the benediction. I was so sad and the cold just made it worse. By the time we left the cemetery I could not feel my feet they were so numb. I was miserable physically and spiritually because I had lost someone close to me.

I still think of her and wonder what her life would have been like had she lived. I know she would have been a blessing to each and every person that she met along the pathway of life. She was a dear person and an angel among us.