Remembering the life of ‘Flo’ Johnston

By: Jael Pembrick - Staff Writer

LAURINBURG — A strong believer, musician, volunteer and writer are a few characteristics that describe the memory of Florence “Flo” Johnston, 87, of Laurinburg, who passed away on Tuesday.

For years, she contributed to The Laurinburg Exchange religion section, as well as working for the Durham Herald Sun for more than 20 years. In addition, Johnston volunteered for the Murdoch Center for Developmental Disabilities for many years.

Retired Chaplain Jim Liestman remembers her coming for a story in the 1990s.

“She was a really delightful person and she brought smiles to every one there,” he said, adding that he recalls her really relating to the disabled patients and workers there and being “down to earth.”

The church needed a musician at the time, and since she played piano, she would come quite a few Sundays for their religious services.

“She was very important to our ministry … with music we had a real strength,” Liestman said.

He said she really connected with one of the women there who was blind. The woman would hear Johnston’s playing one time and remember it by ear.

“Not everyone is good at relating to folks with developmental disabilities, but Flo was very good at it,” Liestman added.

She was best known for her work as an editor in the newspaper business, as well as teaching high school English and journalism over the course of her career. Johnston held degrees from Bob Jones University and the University of Georgia.

Those that knew Flo loved her for her firm convictions, her irreverent humor, and her generous spirit. Flo could often be found enjoying a cigar on her back porch after spending a long day polishing one of her columns for the paper.

She was also remembered for being equally comfortable interviewing powerful religious leaders and attending church with the homeless.

Jael Pembrick can be reached at 910-506-3169 or [email protected]

Jael Pembrick

Staff Writer