One of the beacons of Wichita’s African American community died in a house fire Friday morning.
The 82-year-old Bettie Clark Johnson was known throughout the Gospel-singing world for her talent, and was involved in several Gospel organizations.
Her husband, the late Pastor George Johnson, led the Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church of Wichita for many years.
Fire crews responded to a call at about 8:35 a.m. Friday in the 2300 block of North Burns, near 21st Street and Arkansas. The crews searched the home three times before finding Ms. Johnson’s body under debris. She was identified by family members at noon. Two firemen were treated for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Ms. Johnson led an active social life, attending church, weddings and eating with friends. She checked on people in her community. Her stylish fashion sense made her stand out in a crowd – she favored big glasses and six-inch heels.
She regularly posted on Facebook. Her last post was the night of June 26. “Friends really matter,” she wrote with a video slideshow of her and her many friends.
Friends had already posted condolences on Ms. Johnson’s page by Friday afternoon. Kimberly Laverne Rogers Hatcher wrote, “Miss Betty! You were beautiful lady! Your voice was one of a kind! You will be truly missed! Praying for the family and the many friends that shared your life with you! Love you Bettie Clark Johnson!”
Some of Ms. Johnson’s family and friends gathered in a prayer circle outside the home after being reached with the news of the fire.
Ms. Johnson’s husband died in 2013. There is no information yet on her surviving family and funeral services.