Johnette Ballenger Sowder

In Memory of Johnette Ballenger Sowder

Johnette Ballenger Sowder, 47, of Roanoke, Va.

Johnette Ballenger Sowder, 47, of Roanoke, Va., unexpectedly passed away on October, 14 2010, at her childhood home in Knightdale, N.C.

Johnette had bravely battled the effects of a nine year fight against Lyme Disease. In spite of the physical pain caused by the disease and the emotional pain of having a disease that is misunderstood by many people in the fields of medicine, insurance and government, she had a dream of (in her words) "Approaching Normal" and during the past few months she had shown remarkable progress toward that goal.

Because of her progress, Johnette intended to spend October 12 through October 25 with her family members, while her husband/soul-mate of 20 years, E. Wayne Sowder, mixed sound at the Folk Festival Tent at the N.C. State Fair. She wanted to be with her loving father, Kenneth R. Ballenger, at a time when he was also facing medical challenges as well as her mother/best friend, Phyllis, and devoted stepfather, Bill Chancellor, of Lake Royale, N.C.

Thankfully, Johnette's last day on earth was shared with her favorite (and only) brother, Kenneth Julian Ballenger, and his wife, Melody, watching their two beautiful and adorable daughters, AnaMarie and Harmony Ballenger, all of Fuquay, N.C., at play in a Knightdale park. Johnette had planned on visiting her beloved grandmother, Minnie Rae "Nannie" West, of Greensboro, N.C., on the trip back home to Roanoke as the ultimate finale of our trip. Johnette and "Nannie" shared so many traits that we joked that they were as alike as "Two-Peas in a Pod", hardly a week passed that they did not call or write to each other.

Johnette loved medicine, forensics, music, photography, football, boxing, animals (especially Antoinette her 16 year old cat) and would always find beauty in the simplest parts of everyday life. She loved and missed the people she worked with at Wake Medical Center and Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

I was fortunate to share 20 years with Johnette, she changed my life and I can't believe she is gone. We loved and cared for each other and now I believe she is playing in a Heavenly park with the friends, family and her pets, Muffin and Landry, that went ahead of her. Most certainly with Johnette's cherished grandfather, Johnny R. West, from whom her name was derived; her fraternal grandparents, Raydon and Esteel Ballenger; and my parents, Basil N. and Mary B. Sowder.

Lyme Disease changed both of our lives and in lieu of flowers. please donate or purchase a DVD of the Documentary "Under Our Skin" from either, Open Eye Pictures, 2656 Bridgeway, Suite 202, Sausalito, Calif. 94965, 415-332-3266 or

Johnette always wanted to help other people avoid the suffering she experienced, let the spread of Lyme Disease awareness be her lasting memorial.

L. Harold Poole Funeral Service in Knightdale, N.C. are handling her final needs. The family invites any of her friends to a celebration of her life on Tuesday October 19, 2010, 1 p.m. in the chapel where she was married on the grounds of Whitestone a Masonic & Eastern Star Community, 700S Holden Rd., Greensboro, N.C. 27407, 888-558-6374. Chaplin Tommy Jones officiating with special music by Charles Johnson.

Condolences to the family may be made at under Obituaries.

Published in Roanoke Times on October 17, 2010