By Emily Booker
In times of tragedy and loss, Eastertide can be a reminder that death, though painful, is not an end.
Johna J. Morvant, 49, died April 4 in a helicopter accident in Pigeon Forge along with her daughter, Peyton Rasmussen, 22; her son, Parker Rasmussen, 18; her daughter’s boyfriend, Michael Glenn Mastalez, 21; and the pilot, Jason Dahl, 38. The helicopter crashed into a wooded ridge during a 12-minute afternoon sightseeing tour of the mountains. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
Mrs. Morvant married Keith (Smitty) Morvant last November. They were members of Holy Trinity Church in Jefferson City, and they had a farm in Kodak where they renovated a house on the property and raised potbellied pigs, chickens, and goats. They were looking forward to retirement in the Smoky Mountains. Mrs. Morvant was known by family and friends for her love of animals and the outdoors.
In a letter to family and friends, Mr. Morvant wrote, “She loved Peyton and Parker dearly. And I can’t imagine her here with them gone. Her life would have been so empty and her heart so badly broken; God had it in his plan for them to be together at that time.”
Family and friends attended a funeral Mass for Mrs. Morvant at Holy Trinity on Saturday, April 23. The church choir led the music for the Mass. Although gathered because of tragedy, people took the opportunity to celebrate Johna, Peyton, and Parker and to focus on the hope of the resurrection.
“We gather to acknowledge our grief, because there is a loss, and we grieve our losses,” Father Patrick Resen, pastor of Holy Trinity, said.
“But the grief is not for Johna or Peyton or Parker but for ourselves, because they have not suffered the loss we have. It is proper and fitting to grieve; it is part of the healing process. Let no one tell you should not grieve or that you’re grieving too long,” Father Resen added.
“We are reminded that death is not the end. In fact, it is the beginning of the life we were created for, hard as it is for us to understand that in our human senses,” Father Resen said. He concluded his homily with a poem by Henry Scott Holland, “Death is Nothing at All.”
Mrs. Morvant is survived by her husband, Keith (Smitty); parents, Lynne and Lynn Frederick; grandmother, Virginia Rector; sister, Jennifer J. Cotton; aunt, Leslie (Mark) Johns; uncle, Tom (Bonnie) Rector; brother, Landon; niece, Rylie; nephew, Jace; and cousins, Christopher, Samone, John, Jessie, Mike, Matt, and Mollie. She was preceded in death by her grandfather, Edwin M. Rector Jr. ■