By Erika Webb
Johana Knox shopped for Christmas year-round. One of West Volusia's most well-known and energetic volunteers saw to it that children in need had gifts to open. This year being no exception, countless children in West Volusia who -- without her efforts -- may not have had anything under the tree will indeed have Christmas.
Ms. Knox died Dec. 9 at the age of 81.
She lived in Orange City for 35 years and worked for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office for nine years before leaving her paid position only to return months later as a volunteer.
Lindsay Rew, the media manager for Florida Hospital Volusia/Flagler emailed members of the community:
"Florida Hospital Fish Memorial is deeply saddened by the loss of the longest standing Charter Board Member, Johana Knox. She has left her handprints on the heart of the community."
The Johana Knox Award for Community Service Excellence, developed by the Florida Hospital Fish Memorial Foundation in 2009, recognizes outstanding volunteers in Southwest Volusia.
The award has raised a net amount of $25,768 to benefit cancer patients at the Florida Hospital Fish Memorial Cancer Institute, Ms. Rew added.
Ms. Knox was also a member of the Sorosis Club, Police Athletic League (board of directors), Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival, American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Orange City Chamber of Commerce, DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts, Red Hat Society and 100 Deputies 100 Kids and many others.
Nina Weimer said she can't remember a time when Ms. Knox wasn't in her life. She was Ms. Weimer's Orange City neighbor and a close family friend. Ms. Weimer's mother, Suzy Edwards, and Ms. Knox were co-volunteers for several organizations.
"Before I could drive, I would go around town with her and help her with errands," Ms. Weimer said.
Most of those errands involved helping others.
"I would go shopping with Johana, for all of her causes," Ms. Weimer said. "I remember one Christmas Eve, going shopping with her and buying hundreds of dollars' worth of gifts because she was still getting calls on Christmas Eve about kids who still needed presents."
Despite her sadness, Ms. Edwards had to laugh as she recalled that Christmas Eve.
"Johana called up saying, 'we need more underwear!' I'll never forget it," Ms. Edwards said.
Ms. Weimer said Ms. Knox was like a grandmother to her, someone who was always there for her, to help with school projects, or just to talk.
"I would go over and talk to her for hours. This definitely hit us hard," Ms. Weimer said.
There will be a memorial service for Ms. Knox at Pilgrim Community Church, 1725 S. Volusia Ave., Orange City at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5. A Celebration of Life gathering will be at the Orange City Sorosis Club from 1:30 to 4 p.m. the same day.