Lorraine “Vera” (Kirby) Johnson of Millsboro, Del., passed away on July 15, 2021. She was born July 1, 1931, in Trenton, N.J. James and Sarah Kirby adopted her at a young age. She grew up in the city of Camden, N.J., and subsequently in Lawnside, N.J.
Johnson met and married the late Calvin R. Farmer Sr., with whom she had nine children.
Johnson was taught to sew and cook at a young age by her mother, Sarah. She held numerous jobs outside the home to provide for her growing family, including sewing for various people and organizations, and cooking at Lawnside Elementary School.
She was involved in her community and church. She had a beautiful voice and sang soprano at the Mt. Pisgah AME Church in Lawnside. She also loved playing piano for various choirs. She was a member of the Lawnside Democrat Club. An accomplishment not to be taken lightly was her helping to organize the Lawnside Volunteer Ambulance Squad. She served the community day and night, answering emergency and distress calls.
Following the death of her mother, Sarah, and husband, Calvin R. Farmer Sr., she relocated to Millsboro to care for her father, James Kirby. Subsequently, she met and married Eldridge R. “Scoop” Johnson.
Johnson worked at the Candlelight Bridal Shop and received numerous accolades for her wedding dress designs. With good business sense, she opened up the first Black-owned sewing shop, named Sew-N-Sew, in the middle of the town of Millsboro.
The Johnsons had a passion to minister to the under-served prison community. They wanted to start a ministry for the prison work-release program. It had been discussed but did not come to fruition until Lorraine Johnson decided to speak to the warden.
The program started out in a trailer, but with tenacity, she was able to secure funding to build a permanent worship center that is still operational today. She was ordained by the World Christianship Ministries and Rev. Ron Houston Ministry Inc. She served 25 years as the first Black female chaplain at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware.
Johnson was a faithful viewer and contributor to Joyce Meyers’ Angel Tree ministries, who made a visit to Delaware to perform a special service at the Georgetown prison with Lorraine’s Love Ministry.
Johnson was preceded in death by a half-brother, William Johnson. She is survived by four daughters, Mary Johnson of Pennsauken, N.J., Debora Mickles of Port St. Lucie, Fla, Mable Harmon of Middletown, Del., Nina Wright (and James Wright Sr.) of Estero, Fla; five sons, Calvin Farmer of Barrington, N.J., James Farmer (and Pam) of Lincoln, Del., Eric Farmer of Millsboro, Del., Byron Farmer Sr. of Smyrna, Del., David Farmer Sr. (and Troy) of Bear, Del.; a stepson, Dwayne Johnson (and Doris) of Millsboro; a goddaughter, Gwen Dixon of Philadelphia; and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends.
A funeral service will be held at noon on Thursday, July 22, 2021, at the Watson Funeral Home, 211 S. Washington St., Millsboro, Del., where friends may call from 11 a.m. to noon for viewing and visitation. Interment will follow at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations to Brandywine Valley SPCA, 22918 DuPont Blvd, Georgetown, DE 19947, or Mighty Men of Velour, 22723 Church Creek Dr., Lincoln, DE 19960. Condolences may be sent online at www.watsonfh.com.