Welcome to the memorial page for

Johnnie Ruth Wilhite

July 28, 1930 ~ April 30, 2017 (age 86)

Johnnie Ruth Wilhite passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday morning on April 30, 2017 in Elk Grove, CA after a long illness. Johnnie was preceded in death by her beloved husband Major Carl M. Wilhite of 59 years. Also her parents, Grace Collins, John Watkins and brother "Jack" Watkins. She leaves behind her 4 children, Carl M. Wilhite Jr. (Mary), David Wilhite, Grace Frasche' (Chris) and Brian Wilhite (Leah), 12 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Born in Alabama, she met her husband as a teenager and later eloped and married in Tennessee. This started the lifelong adventures they shared together. Her husband joined the Army and fought in World War II, Korean War and Vietnam. They traveled all over the world making their homes on military bases and apartments. Johnnie had her daughter in Japan and her last son in Germany, so there family could be called international. Johnnie took great pride in accumulating many quality items from around the world. She lovely decorated there home with these items. She would see an item and told stories on what she did to acquire the item and what part of the world she was at when it was purchased. One of her last places she visited China. She carried a small rolled up carpet on her back while visiting the Great Wall of China just so she could bring it home since her suitcase was full of other items.

Johnnie was involved with the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross and even wrote a cookbook as a fundraiser back in 1958 for the multi-denominational church on base while in Germany. The family moved back to Virginia where Johnnie went to cosmetology school  and earned her beautician's license. The family moved for the last time to California in 1962 to join Johnnie's mother while her husband went to Viet Nam and Texas. Johnnie bought the Grand Oaks Beauty Salon in Citrus Heights and worked for many years making so many women beautiful with her hair styles. She opened another salon in the Arden area known as Johnnie's Happy Hairpin.

Johnnie became involved in the Citrus Heights community and was the first woman to become the President of the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce. While in her term she started the first Citrus Heights picnic in Rush Park and the 4th of July Parade. Before her term was over she even planted the seed of getting the city incorporated. She was also the President of the Business and Professional Women's Club of Citrus Heights and a life member of Eastern Star. Johnnie entertained the idea of running for Governor and even spoke with the then Governor Reagan about her role in politics. With the encouragement of her husband, Johnnie decided that time with family and her business would be more important and stepped back from public service.

Johnnie switched careers and went back to school and earned her realtor license. She worked as an agent for the last 30 years in the offices of DRW, JBH, Coldwell Banker and Lyon's Realty. She loved working with first time buyers knowing and relating how thrilled she was to finally buy her first home in California after many years in base housing and apartments.

Johnnie's last adventure is the trip to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to join her beloved husband. It was with great honor that Johnnie buried her husband along with other soldiers that had careers in the military in Arlington and she wanted to be with the only man that could put up with all of her crazy dreams. Together again, who knows where there next adventure will be.

Johnnie wished that all that knew her will remember her as witty, funny, a chef and a southern lady that had style and was generous to a fault.

She requested to have no public funeral or viewing. PRICE FUNERAL CHAPEL (725-2109), directors.  Online condolences can be made at

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