As Her Memory Dims, One Remarkable Mother Remains A “Beacon of Light”
To mark StoryCorps’ 20th Anniversary we are revisiting classic conversations from the past two decades with updates from the participants.
We end this special series by catching up with one remarkable mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mary Johnson-Roy and her son, Laramiun Byrd. Courtesy of Mary Johnson-Roy.
Mary Johnson-Roy lost her only child, Laramiun Byrd, to gun violence in 1993.
One night while at a party, Laramiun got into a fight with another teenager named Oshea Israel. The fight ended when Oshea shot and killed Laramiun.
A dozen years later, Mary went to the penitentiary to visit the man who murdered her son.
Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson-Roy in 2011 and in 2023. By Gaspar Caro and Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.
Soon after Oshea finished serving a prison sentence for murder, Mary brought him to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship. We’ll also hear from them 12 years later.
Mary founded From Death to Life, an organization to help families who have lost children to gun violence, and has spent decades running support groups. But she’s had to step back a bit from her life’s work, after being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Mary Johnson-Roy and her husband, Ed Roy, in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2023. By Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.
Since her diagnosis in 2021, Mary’s husband, Ed Roy, has been her main caretaker. Ed also had a son who was murdered, in fact that’s how he and Mary met. Here, they share more about Mary’s illness.
Mary’s community is rallying to help cover her medical expenses through a GoFundMe, which can be found here.
Top Photo: Oshea Israel, Mary Johnson-Roy and Ed Roy in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2023. By Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.
This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Originally aired September 29, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
First story aired on May 20, 2011 on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Siblings Remember Their Father, A Combat Pilot Who Served In Three Wars
Growing up in the 1930s, Lt. Col. Miguel Encinias wasn’t sure if his dream of becoming a military pilot was in reach. In those days, combat pilots of Hispanic heritage were almost unheard of.
But Encinias was accepted into the Air Force cadet school, and would go and serve as a combat pilot in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He flew around 240 combat missions in all.
Miguel Encinias in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1961. (Courtesy of the Encinias family)
He died in 2016, at the age of 92.
Two of his children, Isabel and Juan Pablo Encinias, came to StoryCorps to remember him and his love for flying.
Juan Pablo Encinias and Isabel Encinias in 2016. (Courtesy of the Encinias family)
Top Photo: Miguel Encinias crouched beneath a F105 aircraft in 1967. (Courtesy of the Encinias family)
Originally aired November 5, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Remembering Their Quiet Mornings Together, This Granddaughter Honors Her “Gentle Giant”
Growing up in rural Wisconsin, Libby Stroik remembered she liked to pass her days reading, playing the piano, or writing; finding solace in the peacefulness of these solo activities.
But Libby was adopted into a large family, so it could be hard to find these moments of quiet.
But there was one person with whom Libby always felt comfortable: her grandfather, Harry Golomski. Visiting him and Grandma on their farm in rural Wisconsin was somewhat of an occasion for Libby as they lived a few hours away.
Harry Golomski with Libby Stroik and one of her siblings in 1991. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).
Decades later, when Libby sat down with StoryCorps for this conversation, Harry was living in an assisted living facility and losing his memory. So she came alone to honor Harry’s quietly joyful soul, and remember how he always made her feel special.
Toddler Libby Stroik stomping around in her grandpa’s boots in 1993. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).
Top Photo: A recent photo of Libby Stroik at home in Milwaukee in 2019. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).
Originally aired August 13, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
StoryCorps 447: Forget Me Not
In this podcast we’re highlighting stories from our Memory Loss Initiative. These interviews help people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss get their stories on tape. It also lets family members and caretakers reflect on the impact the diagnosis has had on them.
We begin with the very first Memory Loss story we ever produced. In 2006, Priya Morganstern (above left) and Bhavani Jaroff brought their father, Ken Morganstern, to our recording booth in Grand Central Terminal. He was living with Alzheimer’s and the sisters wanted to record his memories while they still could. After Ken passed away in 2007, his daughters returned to StoryCorps to remember him.
From a story about a dad to one about a mom, Teresa Valko’s family has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for generations. She lives in California and her mother, Evelyn Wilson, lives in Georgia. Almost a decade ago, Evelyn began to show symptoms of memory loss, and Teresa remembers how their regular telephone conversations began to change.
Husband and wife Jo Ann and Bob Chew married later in life, a second marriage for both of them. Jo Ann, who is older than Bob, worried that one day he would have to take care of her. When they recorded this interview, Jo Ann was just beginning to show signs of early stage Alzheimer’s.
Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Twelve Diseases” by Welcome Wizard from the album Lunachild
“A Spire” by Tape from the album Rideau
“Milo” by Fredrik from the album Trilogi
“Dunes” by Podington Bear from the album Solo Instruments
“Comptine d’un autre été – L’après-midi” by Yann Tiersen from the album Amélie from Montmartre (Bande originale du film)
Photo of Priya Morganstern, Ken Morganstern, and Bhavani Jaroff.
Teresa Valko’s family has been battling Alzheimer’s—a progressive disease that attacks the brain causing memory loss, the deterioration of thought and language skills, and changes in behavior—for generations.
According to Teresa, on her mother’s side of the family, there is a 100% occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
For many years, Teresa, who lives in California, would spend hours on the phone chatting with her mother, Evelyn Wilson (pictured above right), in Georgia (seen together below in Evelyn’s yard in 1980). But in 2007, Evelyn began to show the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
At StoryCorps, Teresa sat down with friends Lisa Farrell and Doris Barnhart to talk about her weekly telephone conversations with her mother and how they have changed over the years, as well as what she has learned about her own future health after undergoing genetic testing.
Originally aired November 13, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
NOTE: Two generations of Teresa’s family died of complications from Alzheimer’s including her aunt, uncle, grandmother, and all of her grandmother’s siblings. As of right now, none of her generation of family members have been diagnosed with the disease.
Photos courtesy of Teresa Valko.
Kirk Sharp and Ryan Sharp
Sgt. Ryan Sharp (right) served two tours in Iraq with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.
In 2008, when he returned to the States from his last tour, things weren’t the same. He had trouble thinking straight, he felt off and was deeply depressed.
Ryan and his father, Kirk Sharp (left), sat down for a StoryCorps conversation in Lincoln, Nebraska to talk about what happened when Ryan came home.
Originally aired November 8, 2014, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.
Jon Meadows and Melissa Meadows
Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Jon Meadows has served two tours of duty, first to Iraq in 2006, then to Afghanistan in 2012.
Over the course of his service, he suffered multiple head injuries—which he didn’t report because he wanted to keep on serving.
Then, in an examination during his last tour, doctors found polyps in Jon’s throat. He was sent to a hospital in the States—and that’s when the brain damage was discovered.
Jon and his wife, Melissa (pictured in the player above), came to the White House for a day StoryCorps spent recording with Joining Forces, the national effort to support service members and their families, which is spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
In Washington, Jon told his wife about his life now, and remembered a friend and fallen soldier who served with him in Iraq.
Originally aired May 24, 2014, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.
Above: Photo of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden courtesy of Lawrence Jackson for the White House.Staff Sergeant Jon Meadows, who suffered traumatic injuries during his last tour of duty in Afghanistan, remembers a fallen friend.
Priya Morganstern and Bhavani Jaroff Update
For our 10th anniversary, we’re revisiting some favorite stories.
Priya Morganstern (L) and her sister, Bhavani Jaroff (R), first came to StoryCorps in 2006 to interview their father, Ken Morganstern, who had Alzheimer’s disease.
Ken died in 2007. Priya and Bhavani recently came back to StoryCorps to remember him.
Originally aired October 27, 2010 on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Carol Kirsch and Rebecca Posamentier
Rebecca Posamentier (above right) first came to StoryCorps in 2008 with her mother, Carol Kirsch, who had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Rebecca was hoping to record her mother’s voice and thoughts on tape before Carol ‘s condition worsened.
Carol died in March 2011, and Rebecca returned to StoryCorps to remember her mother.
Originally aired May 10, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Above: Carol with her granddaughter Sophie. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Posamentier.
Jeff Ingram and Penny Ingram
Jeff Ingram suffers from Dissociative Fugue, a rare type of amnesia. When he has an attack, his memory is wiped clean.
But each time he has to start his life over, his wife, Penny, is there to help him remember.
At StoryCorps, Penny told Jeff about the early days of their relationship.
One reason the Ingrams wanted to record with StoryCorps was to preserve Jeff’s memories — in case he loses them again.
Listen to the message Jeff recorded for himself:
Originally aired on December 13, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.