Providencia Aretha Felipa-Dangerfield “Rita” Johnson
Without warning death plucked a flower from our garden on Sept. 27, 2013. Sister Providencia Aretha Felipa-Dangerfield “Rita” Johnson was called from earth to heaven’s reward. She was born in Flushing Queens, Long Island, N.Y., on June 10, 1950, to the late Josephine Lewis Dangerfield (Nelson J. Dangerfield) and the late Prudencio V. H. Felipa.
Eulogy will be conducted on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. at the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, with Pastor Donald R. Burnette as the officiant. Visitation will begin from 8 a.m. until the time of services. Interment will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park, Port Arthur, Texas.
Rita, as she was affectionately called, was a civic leader and a public servant who can be appropriately described as a godly woman who vigorously pursued a godly path toward a godly cause. This chosen course of action made her unique and set her remarkably apart in God’s orchard as an abundantly productive fruitbearing tree whose leaves of concern for human betterment never withered, and whose inward and outward prosperity never waned.
Sister Johnson received her high school diploma from Thomas Jefferson High School of Port Arthur, Texas, in 1968 and graduated in 1970 from Chenier Business School of Beaumont, Texas, with a certification in business administration.
Providencia and Larry Thompson were united in marriage and produced a daughter, Sharonda. When she moved to Crowley, she united in holy matrimony with Haymon Johnson on Sept. 5, 1998. She was proud of her family whom she loved dearly, and that love was reciprocated.
Her religion began with the Catholic faith and in 1985 Rita was baptized at the Mount Sinai Baptist Church of Port Arthur, Texas, and later united with Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church of Crowley, her church family, under the leadership of Reverend Donald R. Burnette Sr. Sister Johnson served faithfully as member of the Chancel Choir, held the position of pastor’s aid president, produced a newsletter called “The Star”, was a youth department member and of Division II – Missionary Society, a Bible Vacation School teacher, donated toward the purchase of uniforms for the junior ushers and worked wherever she was needed.
Providencia was the first president of the reorganization of Homeland Civic and Social organization. She served in that capacity for two years.
She was an inactive member of Excelsior Chapter, Order of Eastern Star #84.
Rita’s career in Crowley began as clerk at Crowley City Hall. She later moved into the position of grants coordinator. She was responsible for the grant writing and research for funding of Capital Outlay Projects, DARE grants, Local Law Enforcement Block grants, Rural Development grants, Decentralized Arts Grant, Louisiana Main Street grants and Historic Preservation grants.
Rita was very instrumental in the implementation of the Historic Parkerson Avenue Redevelopment Avenue Project and was the grants writer for the improvements to the Crowley Baseball Complex and Miller Stadium Project. In 1999, she became the first Main Street manager for the city of Crowley. Rita implemented the Main Street program which is designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of downtown.
In 2001, Crowley Main Street was recognized as a National Main Street Community. She introduced Witchy Way, and Kids Day Out, “An Evening with the Arts & A Taste of Cuisine, (a Remember November Main Street event) and published a newsletter for Main Street. She was financial officer for the Louisiana Main Street Mangers Association.
Providencia helped plan over 33 percent of the arts programming for the Crowley Art Association and the city. Along the way she helped create sidewalk chalk art day in April Sketches, art shows at the Opera House and helped spread the word about arts of Crowley.
She was co-chairperson of the Mardi Gras and JulyFete festivities.
She was a participant of the Miss Bea’s Reading Program at Ross Elementary School.
Rita was secretary to Alderwoman Laurita Pete, president of the Louisiana Black Caucus Association for one year.
Providencia was the mother of one child and five grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her mother, Josephine Dangerfield; her father, Prudencio V. H. Felipa and Nelson J. Dangerfield, who reared her; two sisters, Mary Louise Lawson and Dorothy Morgan; and one brother, Bennett Tyler.
She leaves to celebrate her life her husband, Haymon “Jake”; one daughter, Sharonda (Craig) of Beaumont; five grandchildren, Amanda Holbert and Breanna Arline (Rashad Arline) of Beaumont and Samaris Smith, Broderick Holbert and Bryce Holbert, all of Beaumont; two great-grandchildren, Carmen Jones and Jatorian Adams. Rita also leaves to cherish her fond memories: one sister, Mattie Dorsey of Port Arthur; one sister she adopted, Margaret Young of Crowley; and her special friends, Pat Johnson of Crowley and Charlene Godeau of Port Arthur.
She leaves also to mourn her passing Ms. Delores N. Johnson, her mother-in- law; Mr. John Johnson (Claudette), her father-in-law; four sisters-in-law, Vera Minix (Paul Lewis) of Beaumont, Nancy (Wendell Milson) of Crowley, Leola Johnson (Walter Anderson) of Crowley and Elaine (Mike Freeman) of Crowley; three brothers-in-law, John Wayne (Doretheia) of Rayne, Dave of Rayne and Gilbert of Manhattan, Kan.; two godchildren, Laqueisha Pattman of McKinnley, Texas and Brianna Anderson of Crowley; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.