Saphir, Helen Johnson

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Helen Johnson Saphir, 89, formerly of Narrows, went home to be with the Lord on Friday, October 27, 2006 at South Roanoke Nursing Home. Born in Roanoke County on July 10, 1917 she was the daughter of the late Samuel Austin Johnson, Sr. and Sarah Virginia Shumate Johnson.

In addition to her mother and father, she was preceded in death by her husband, Herbert S. Saphir; two sisters, Virginia Johnson Coburn and Mary Johnson Ballard; three brothers, Raymond Fetter Johnson, Samuel A. Johnson, Jr., and James Rufus Johnson; a nephew, Michael Johnson; and a great-great-nephew, Joseph Harold Stafford II.

Helen was a graduate of Narrows High School and received her teaching degree from Radford College. She was a member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Narrows. Helen will be dearly missed by her family and close friends.

She is survived by a sister-in-law, Beulah Harris Johnson of Salem; two nieces and their husbands, Sarah Ballard Kageals and Mark of Salem, Katrina Johnson Clyburn and Donald of Roanoke; four nephews, Randall Johnson of Hampton, Raymond Johnson and wife Jill of Charleston, South Carolina, Randy Ballard of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Ron Johnson and wife Ann of Princeton; several great nieces and nephews, and many special friends.

The family wishes to express their appreciation to the staff of South Roanoke Nursing Home and Dr. William Ball, who made her last several years comfortable and enjoyable. The family also extends its gratitude to Gentle Shepherd Hospice for the care and compassion given to her during her final months.

Family and friends may gather at Riffe’s Funeral Service in Narrows Sunday, October 29, 2006 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. A brief visitation will be held at 2 p.m. with services following in Birchlawn Abbey in Pearisburg with The Rev. Dennis Martin officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be sent to First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), P.O. Box 441, Narrows, Virginia 24124.

Online condolence messages can be sent to the family at