110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Services planned in January
By Al Everson
posted Dec 10, 2012 - 11:20:04am
"It is more blessed to give than to receive." — Acts 20:35
Dictionaries and thesauri should be revised to show Johana Knox and "volunteer" as synonyms.
Knox, a transplanted New Yorker who came to Orange City in 1977, adopted West Volusia as her own home and loved it so much she was willing to work for people, government agencies and nonprofit causes for no pay.
Perhaps more correctly, Knox felt compensated by the satisfaction of helping others — and she did it all while battling health problems, including cancer, over several years.
Knox, for whom volunteering was a way of life, passed away Sunday, Dec. 9. She was 81.
"She was the greatest. Just the absolute sweetest volunteer ever to be born," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said. "She was always there, no matter what needed to be done."
Johnson said Knox had been especially helpful in putting together the Sheriff's Office's 100 Deputies/100 Kids program, which assured underprivileged children received toys and a gala party at Christmas. The Sheriff's Office was one of dozens of entities blessed to have had Knox on its volunteer roster.
The list of organizations that benefited from her 35 years of local involvement is too numerous to detail here, but Knox actively worked without pay for The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, the Faith at Work outreach of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce, the MainStreet DeLand Association, the West Volusia Police Athletic League, the Florida Hospital-Fish Memorial Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. Knox was also active in the Sorosis Club in Orange City.
So dedicated and committed a volunteer was Knox that her name graces an annual honor, the Johana Knox Award for Community Service Excellence, given by the Florida Hospital-Fish Memorial Foundation.
"She was very, very special to me," said Camille Murawski, who knew Knox from her work as a member of the board of directors of the Florida Hospital-Fish Foundation. "She was always very, very sharp. There were times I would be with her, and I would forget she was 81."
Not least, Knox logged additional hours of service as a loving and devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
"She was such a fantastic lady. I don't know where to begin," said Carol Knox, her daughter-in-law. "She gave me a pillow. It's on my couch. It says, 'Mother in law by chance, friend by choice.'"
As recently as a few days ago, Johana Knox was busily collecting toys and gifts for needy families.
"She thought this might be her last Christmas," Carol Knox said.
"Johana was a woman with a heart that overflowed with kindness, compassion and generosity; she wore her heart on her sleeve. Anyone who's met Johana knows that she never hesitated to listen, lend a hand, offer a wise piece of advice or a funny anecdote," said Samantha Hollister, a friend and chairwoman of the first Johana Knox award committee. "Very often I'd mention to her that it was OK to say no once in a while. But the truth is, I know that saying 'yes' is what motivated her every morning and gave her a tremendous sense of purpose."
Family members, friends and associates will celebrate Knox's life with a memorial service in January. The exact date and time have not yet been announced.
"There are so many people from out of the state of Florida that want to come, and we're looking to get past the holidays," Carol Knox said.
REPORTED EARLIER BY SARAHROSE MINISTERI: Tireless volunteer Johana Knox, 81, died Dec. 9 after a short illness.
Knox, whose volunteer work touched agencies ranging from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office to the Florida Hospital-Fish Memorial Foundation, had lived in Orange City for 34 years, moving here from New York City.
Knox's service to the community was so outstanding that Florida Hospital named a Community Service Excellence award in her honor. It is presented annually to recognize the kind of selfless devotion that characterized Knox's years in West Volusia.
A memorial service is being planned for early January, but no final arrangements have been made.
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