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Evelyn Johnson worked for the Watauga County Public Library for 35 years. Photo submitted

Originally published: 2013-01-15 20:42:27
Last modified: 2013-01-15 20:44:54

Beloved librarian remembered

by Anna Oakes

Evelyn Shook Johnson, a 35-year employee of the Watauga County Public Library, passed away Jan. 14 at the age of 54.

Johnson recently suffered a heart attack and was transported to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, family members said.

Johnson was born Jan. 29, 1958, in Watauga County, a daughter of the late Roy Jeffrey Shook and Beulah Tester Shook.

In addition to serving as the adult services librarian at the Watauga Public Library, she was an active member of the North Carolina Library Association and served on the executive board of the North Carolina Library Paraprofessional Association. Johnson was also a member and Sunday School teacher at Watauga Baptist Church and a member of the Kiwanis Club.

"Evelyn worked at the library for 35 years and was a committed and dedicated employee who loved her work and this community," said Monica Caruso, Watauga County librarian. "The library will never be the same without her, and she will be greatly missed by all of us here. She was a vital force in our community, as well, and her generous nature, leadership and overall kindness is a great loss."

Jackie Cornette, director of the Western Watauga Branch library, said, "Evelyn's commitment to serving our library community was incredible, encouraging staff development, always promoting library services and finding ways to meet the needs of our library community. Evelyn's enthusiasm and commitment will be missed not only by Watauga residents but across the state of North Carolina."

The director of the Appalachian Regional Library system, Molly Westmoreland, said that condolences have been coming in from all across the state, including from the state librarian, library directors and others who knew Johnson.

"Evelyn Johnson was loved and respected for her public library service," Westmoreland said. "(She) was devoted to her community and beloved by the people she worked with every day."

Johnson is survived by two sons, Seth Johnson and Caleb Johnson, both of the Foscoe community, as well as numerous other family members.

"She was always putting people before herself, (and) she cared for her boys more than anything," said son Caleb. "She had the strongest heart of anyone I've met. She was a role model for so many people."

"She loved the two Ls -- that was the Lord and the library," he said, with a laugh.

Caleb said he and his brother want the community to know that their mother was an organ donor, and that her organs would be donated to help patients and for research at Duke University -- "much to her dismay," he joked, noting that his mother was an enthusiastic Carolina basketball fan.

"Her spirit is keeping us strong," he said.

A celebration of Johnson's life will be conducted Thursday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. at Watauga Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Watauga Baptist Church Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Watauga Baptist Church. Flowers are appreciated, or memorial contributions may be made to the family in care of David Shook, 314 Park Road, Banner Elk, North Carolina, 28604.

Online condolences may be sent to the Johnson family at In addition, Watauga Public Library customers and friends can write messages in a memorial book at the Reference Desk. The book will eventually be given to the Johnson family.