Beloved daughter, mother, cousin, friend, visual artist, consultant, instructor, master gardener, master food preserver, and entrepreneur, Marijohn Marie Bledsoe passed peacefully on Thursday, October 31, 2019, in Modesto, California. She was 46.
Although Marijohn, as measured by some, had a short life, her life was we lived. Once in a while, a person enters the world and leaves an indelible imprint on the mind, heart and spirit of all who meet her. Such person was Marijohn... to know her was to love her.
A renaissance woman, she embraced multiple roles with heart, strength of character and genuine focus. But her role as a mother to her son, Langston, eclipsed all the career moves, monetary opportunities, and life-altering challenges of life.
Marijohn was born on October 23, 1973 in Boston, Massachusetts, the only child born to Carita Harrison Bledsoe and Marvin Bledsoe. When a toddler, the Bledsoe family moved to San Francisco, California, where Marijohn grew up. Since childhood, she was sociable, adventurous, and actively curious about many things. She attended The Urban School of San Francisco and there she excelled in the visual arts, including painting, sculpting, and other art forms. During her time at Urban, her portfolio of 50 pieces of artwork including sculptures, metal printing, water colors and , oils won the top award in the National Advanced Placement for the Arts.
After graduation from The Urban School, she attended Fisk University, a HBCU in Nashville, where her mother and father are alumni; and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Pi Chapter. Later she transferred to the University of Memphis, graduating with a double major of economics and Middle Eastern Studies, foreshadowing her evolving international interests.
After moving to Memphis, she went to the Brooks Museum of Ali and honed her craft further. Never complacent, she accepted new challenges, working for Internet Solutions, a website company. In her role there, Marijohn consulted with major companies in Memphis and Nashville in the design and development of websites, e.g., Malco Theatres and Books Alts Museum.
A spiritual person, Marijohn was dedicated to her faith. In her youth, she attended the San Francisco Christian Center. In Memphis, she attended Friendship Baptist Church and was a member of Roxie Gunter Singers. Upon returning to California, she and her son, Langston, were members of Congregation Beth Shalom in Modesto.
While working in Memphis, she met and married her husband, John Ragland. During the marriage, the couple had a baby boy named Langston and he became her new focus and priority in life. She home-schooled him and adjusted her career to fit the needs of her child.
Marijohn and Langston later moved to Williamsburg, Virginia to work in the recreational resort industry where she developed and serviced a growing affluent client base. Her career eventually came full circle back to California. As an instructor for the University of California in Davis, CA, Marijohn taught food safety and nutrition, to aspiring Certified Master Food Preservers. While working for UC Davis, Marijohn continued to homeschool Langston, nurture him with homegrown organic foods, and make a living. The remarkable thing about Marijohn's spirit and zest for life was she had multiple health complications for most of her adult years, yet continued to live and thrive.
Marijohn is preceded in death by her aunt, Shirley Harrison Patterson, of Memphis TN; her uncle, Britton Shelton of Tupelo MS; and her young brother, Marvin Russell Bledsoe Jr. of Manteca CA. Also preceding her in death were her aunt, Bobbie Metcalf Harrison, and two first cousins, David Elmer Harrison and Kimberly Michelle Fitch.
She leaves to mourn her passing: her son, Langston Boaz Bledsoe-Ragland of Memphis; her mother, Carita Harrison Bledsoe Reaves of Memphis; her father Dr. Marvin Russell Bledsoe, Sr. of Manteca, CA; her sister, Julia Marie Bledsoe of Manteca CA; four uncles, Elmer "Eddie" Harrison, Anthony R. (Anita) Harrison, &
Carroll Henry (Christina) Bledsoe all of Memphis, and Joe Frank (Elaine) Shelton of Wake Forest, NC; four aunts, Regenia Harrison (James) Nave, Janelle Bledsoe Pringle, & Helen Marie Harrison (Charles) Lewis, all of Memphis, and Taryn Joy Harrison (Julius) Sloss of Nashville TN, and a host of other relatives and friends.
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