Story behind scathing obituary revealed

Reported by: Terri Hendry
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Updated: 9/14/2013 9:38 am
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- There is an unusual obituary that appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal that has gone viral. It is scathing and is written "on behalf of the children." The obituary is for Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick, who was born January 4, 1935 and died August 30, 2013. The obituary had a typo saying Johnson-Reddick died Sept. 30, 2013.

Among other things, the obituary claims she "tortured" her children and that they "celebrated her passing." Many are asking if this obituary is real and what is the story behind it. News 4 did some digging and found the obituary is, in fact, real.

Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was a resident of Reno. She had eight children, six of whom are still living. One of her sons lives in our area. He declined an on-camera interview, but said the obituary was submitted online by a sister in Texas.

This family's story is also a piece of Nevada history.  Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick's children lived in a foster home in Carson City. The obituary marked an ending to a chapter for the Reddick family, but just a block away from the foster home, you can see the dome of the Nevada Supreme Court where there was a ruling in the 70s that parents' rights usurped children's rights, and the case stems from the children of this obituary.

A few years later, the Reddick's story of their mother's abuse came to then state senator Sue Wagner. She introduced legislation that was eventually adopted, allowing children to terminate parental rights.

The Reddicks aren't willing to share their story of abuse publicly, but they did leave a positive mark for children facing their situation. 
19 Comment(s)
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witchsdaughter - 1/16/2015 3:46 PM
0 Votes
I wish I had written this, but my witch mother unfortunately isn't dead yet. Other people don't/can't understand. They believe all mothers are loving and nurturing and warm & fuzzy. Well, some aren't. Some aren't even indifferent--they're WITCHES. At least these kids got to go to a foster home. I had to stay there and endure torture (no, not abuse--TORTURE)physically, mentally, emotionally until I was unceremoniously thrown out into the street at 15. I always thought if I could escape, everything would be fine. But it wasn't. If you are a war veteran and kill someone or watch your comrades die, you will never forget it. Ever. But you're only on the front lines for 90 days. Try 15 years. 15 years in a concentration camp. And it didn't end then. She escalated after I "left home". I never believed the horrendous things she said to me and my brothers--on the thinking level anyway. On the emotional level--whole different story. I admire these people for speaking the truth, instead of the old tradition of pretending this person was wonderful simply because now she is dead.

Chasmodai - 9/14/2013 5:23 PM
0 Votes
When I was a child, I was taught that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. But that enables and protects the perps of this world. When a person is abused and are silent about it they carry the shame of it around with them. When they speak out, they can finally be free. This has nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is a very personal thing. This is about standing up for one's self and not protecting the wrongdoer. It's about not being a victim anymore, but a survivor.

tryng2servive - 9/14/2013 3:21 PM
2 Votes
Shame on the media..this private,personal matter has become a circus..a media feeding frenzy..I'm so glad they brought in the "experts" so everyone will know how they are "supposed" to feel. I guess in order for the Obit to remain, they will have to lie now and make everything all rosie, warm and fuzzy to keep the censors at bay...

rushthrutime - 9/13/2013 5:41 AM
0 Votes
roseanya: I can relate. My father, who was NOT an alcoholic, wanted me dead when I was little. One of the times, there were more, but this one my mom saw - he locked me outside in a short sleeved t-shirt in Wisconsin the week of Christmas. I didn't have a watch, but when my mother came home my jaw was frozen open, no feeling in anything - I kind of lurched my legs along and used my elbows along the shed, then along her car, then the railing. I was fine after crawling up the stairs to my room, where I stuffed socks in my mouth to keep quiet because it hurts to thaw out. But when she came home, I tried to tell her, only able to make vowel sounds, that Dad locked me out again. She shrieked at me "Why do you always have to make trouble?" 53 Years old and it just occurred to me yesterday why she said that. I think to justify to herself if I died, she preferred to think I was a troublemaker. I was obedient, honest, I never talked back, got good grades, liked to read, loved animals and John Denver. Coloring books, puzzles, paint-by-numbers. My dad's mother shoved me hard with both hands in front of a very fast-moving car as a kid. I'm telling you - for absolutely no reason. Years later when I was older but still a kid she sent me a b-day card "To Kandy, Be a dead girl. -Grandma." My oldest brother is an alcoholic, abused his wife. When he revealed he was killing neighbor's pets I burst into tears and called him a loser whereupon he hit me a full force direct hit to the heart. My heart did stop. I had been just grief-stricken and enraged because it was so awful so my heart had been pounding. The second he hit me it stopped. No more breaths after that I remember thinking that he might have murdered me. I slunk down the wall behind me then it started up again so hard it was physically painful. Haven't seen any of them for 20 yrs. Wish it was longer. I can't describe the daily torment. It affects life's decisions forever. My dad says mom's stupid. I'm not. I left.

Runebearer - 9/13/2013 2:49 AM
0 Votes
Forgiving a terrible person who doesn't show any regret or will to change for the better isn't a good thing at all. It will just give people the impression that no matter how horrible they treat others, they will ultimately be forgiven anyway, discouraging them from any positive developement. Forgiveness should be earned, not given away for free.

Mudguzzler - 9/12/2013 8:45 PM
0 Votes
My mother was a monster. When I texted a sibling about her; I noticed 666 spelled out mom. (look for yourself) I took care of her for 3.5 years. She was bedridden, and I did nothing but to try and show her love, but monsters from hell; do not know love. She was so evil, the last words out her mouth in front of my husband directed to me; she said, “I should have beat you more as a kid.” She had a stroke, I called hospice, and she died 2 days later. The happiest day of my life is when I saw her dead body in our spare bedroom. I had a brother who committed suicide recently, and when I mentioned to his wife about our abuse, she said, “Now I understand just how bad you guys had it.” It is sad it took his life for his wife and kids to understand it. For my husband to understand even a tad; was having her on our home 3.5 years. It feels good to write this, because I feel I am not alone, and by the comments; I am not.

Amy Reich - 9/12/2013 6:55 PM
4 Votes
Finally, an honest obit! Life is the pits. Some parents are evil. I also had very abusive parents & was raped by my step-father. So I dealt with it & moved on. I'm not sure forgiveness is the key. Maybe it's coming to terms with the fact that very bad things happen in this world & that some people choose evil; and then choosing which way we personally want to live & love are the important decisions we have to make. But I'm tired of society soft-soaping people's darker sides when they're dead. Not everyone is a good person in this world, & it's not wrong to state it plainly, or say how you feel about it.

Joyce - 9/12/2013 6:50 PM
0 Votes
Why did they wait until her death? If they really wanted to help other children in an abusive situation why didn't they come out earlier. Electronic media today allows anyone, no matter how valid, to state their case. It is up to the wisdom and questioning of the readers to discern the facts.

ccenger - 9/12/2013 4:49 PM
0 Votes
many people are talking about forgiveness and how the children should not have written such an obituary, but i think they are missing the point. if the children were trying to bring awareness to the child abuse issue, they achieved their goal. this obituary would not have made the news if it had just said the usual date of death, the survivors and services, etc. it's none of my business whether these children have forgiven their mother, but it is my business (and my duty) to be aware of child abuse and to watch for its signs in the children i work with and know. i think that is the point of the obituary, not to be vindictive so much as be honest and bring attention to something most people don't want to think about.

roseanya - 9/12/2013 4:16 PM
0 Votes
When either or both parents are extremely abusive, the child(ren) are unable to forgive and forget or to move on. I have been crippled severely by two abusive parents--a violent alcoholic father and a mean co-dependent mother. Both so narcisstic.... A couple of my siblings had a fighting chance but of the five: oldest sister has bankrupted five husbands, now retired and alone--she had two sons, the elder so messed up you can just see how this stuff passes from one generation to the next. I'm alone but had a "career" but unable to trust enough to have a real relationship but I was able to pass over many of the Daddy images that wanted to marry and have me support them and wait on them. Brother seems to have had fetal alcohol syndrome and not much to work with upstairs. He made in thru high school but has only had sporadic menial work--thankfully only one child. Younger sister divorced twice, one child outside marriage as she tried to hood wink a "rich" father. Kid seems ok because of his father's intervention. Sister on SSI after psychotic behavior on the job. Criminal record. Youngest brother sort of OK--his father held him occasionally although he wouldn't touch any of the other kids--seems this kid was big enough for him to claim as his rightful heir. Anyhow, the youngest bro delivers potato chips to C stores. He married and has raised 3 sons thanks to his wife's family. He's done OK financially because my parents bought their house--while refusing to spend ANYTHING on the other kids. I didn't even get a H.S. graduation gift, never a birthday cake or gift, never school clothes but they had money for cars, guns/rifles, booze. I recall two diners--steak for the parents. Generic mac and cheese for the kids... Never a kind word, never an interest. Punished for doing well in school--you're a girl, the boys need to be smarter....

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