Family, friends bid goodbye to slain TDOC employee


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While there were some tears at Debra Johnson’s service, there was a lot of comfort as loved ones say she is now home with the lord. 

It was standing room only inside The Temple Church in North Nashville as Johnson’s life was celebrated. 

She was known as a woman who devoted her life to God, her family and her work. 

Johnson led a distinguished career with nearly four decades of service to TDOC. 

Friends shared memories of her love for shopping, drinking coca colas and eating chicken wings. 

While her children boasted about not only what an amazing mother she was, but grandmother known as “Gran Gran” to the little ones. 

Colleagues say she motivated them to achieve more, while inmates say she inspired them to change their life. Dozens of former inmates came to the service wearing shirts that said “RIP DJ.”

Debra Kelley told News 2, Johnson, who she also called mom, changed her life while she was serving time at the TN Prison for Women. 

“She took me under her wing and she just began to tell me she saw another person in me and that there were things I could do better and my last trip there I did 17 years and Ms. Johnson told me she said you will be one of the ones that will never come back and I haven’t looked back since then,” Kelley explained. 

Johnson’s daughter, Dr. Shernaye Johnson told the crowd her mother loved being called “Queen” and “First Lady” by the inmates as she stepped on the compound. 

Johnson was a firm believer in giving everyone a second chance. 

“I don’t want my mother, Debra K. Johnson to just be a headline. I want people to change their mind, processes, and heart. So let’s all take a piece of my mom and be a beacon of light on this wold. Let her death signify that love truly does conquer all,” she said from the podium. 

After the service, Johnson was taken to Greenwood Cemetery North where she was buried. 

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