FLORENCE — Joanne Gilbert Risner, 84, died on September 20, 2020 from complications of a hip fracture. She will not be remembered on a list of awards for finding the vaccine for COVID, playing in Carnegie Hall, or winning the Pulitzer Prize. However, her name will be in a far more important list: A list of those who were strengthened because she prayed for them, and she used the gifts God gave her in creative and consistent ways to make a difference in the lives of all who knew her. She will be remembered as a great woman.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Homer and Gertie Gilbert; and her husband, Paul Risner. Affectionately known by her family as Momma Jo, she had one son, Dr. Gregory Paul Risner; a daughter-in-law, Tammy Sharp Risner; and one granddaughter, Lane Katherine “Laney” Risner. Other family members include the late Linda Bevis Trousdale (Jerry), Heather Trousdale Whorton (Tracy), Dawn Trousdale Potter, and Heath Trousdale.
A proud graduate of Coffee High School, Joanne played the saxophone for both the CHS and Florence State College marching bands.
Joanne was an accomplished musician. Although she read music well, she was known for her ability to play nearly any song “by ear” on the piano or saxophone. Also, she played the organ, alto sax, and autoharp.
A loving Christian with numerous gifts, she taught children’s Bible classes, College and Career Sunday School, and developed a popular Christian puppet skits and formulated a character the kids loved: “Bro. Flop,” a character who often brings on his own problems instead of trusting in God. Sadly, Bro. Flop retired in 1975, when her only son Greg (accidentally) backed over him in the driveway.
Ironically, it was Joanne’s organ and singing skills that presented an opportunity to serve others and became her proudest and most rewarding in life. When Temple B’nai Israel (Florence) was in need of a cantorial musician, Joanne agreed to play the organ and learn how to sing the many popular Hebrew songs that are an integral part of the weekly religious Sabbath service. Her family’s close relationship with several long-term members of Temple B’nai Israel, and her strong Christian faith, established her as a loved and respected role model for the Shoals’ interfaith community. She served in this role for two years.
Interwoven in her years of church service was her passion for knowing God on a deeper level through intense, intercessory, and daily prayer. Joanne’s daily routine included a time set aside for scripture reading and prayer.
As life circumstances forced her to change churches several times due to driving situations, service times, et cetera, the constant ministry she sought to continue was her prayer work and as a participant in prayer groups across denominations. Several weeks before her last fall and decline, she had lunch with her prayer team and a pleasant time of fellowship. She expressed how much she missed being able to attend Brother Eddie Lawrence, and her friends at Grace House Church.
In lieu of flowers, Joanne requests donations be made to the “Gregory Paul Risner Student Teaching Scholarship.” Checks Payable to: “UNA Foundation” On check “For” line acknowledgement ‘Greg Risner Scholarship’, Or/And **Include ‘paper’ inside envelope having written.... Dr. Gregory Paul Risner Scholarship for Student Teachers, Mail to: UNA Box 5113, Florence, AL 35632.
A graveside service will be today, September 23, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in Greenview Memorial Park. Brother Eddie Lawrence will be officiating. Pallbearers will be Don Price, Heath Trousdale, Marty Abroms, Dr. Bob Bailey, and Ken Nix. Honorary pallbearer will be Greg Burdine.
An online guest book may be signed at greenviewmemorial.com.