Joan E. Johnston
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Joan E. Johnston
  • June 8, 1942 - January 26, 2017
  • Keene, New Hampshire

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Joan Johnston, after a long illness, entered her eternal reward on Thursday evening, January 26. She was the widow of her beloved, late husband of 47 years, Andrew W. Johnston, Sr., and the daughter of the late John and Florence Minett of Queens, NY. Mrs. Johnston received the great consolation of being surrounded by the tender love of her children and grandchildren, family, friends and caretakers, both in person and in spirit, the last weeks of her life.

Mrs. Johnston was born on June 8, 1942, in Brooklyn, NY. She attended Catholic primary and secondary schools, in NY, graduating from Our Lady of Wisdom Academy before attending a year of secretarial school and a year at Queens College. She married Andrew William Johnston, Sr., originally from Bergenfield, NJ, in 1962. Together, they brought into the world five children while living in Brooklyn. After driving through Keene, NH, on a summer vacation, the couple decided to relocate their family there and did so in April of 1970, a move they never regretted. She and her husband and family were active members of St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Parish.

Mrs. Johnston was a stay at home mother, who often recalled that she particularly enjoyed being a mother the early years when the children were little. She kept a memory alive of walking her little family down to Prospect Park, in Park Slope, each day. Her baby boy, Billy, sat in the stroller while the four older children, Andrea, Laura, Andrew and Joan (J.J.), surrounded it and held on tight while Mother paraded down the street, while Dad stayed home to watch the store, the Park Slope Sweet Shop. Mrs. Johnston, a pre-WWII baby herself, was also very devoted to her five brothers and sisters: Jack, Jere, Jimmy, Janis and Jeff who were all post-WWII babies. She recently said, with tearful devotion, of her younger siblings, "My brothers and sisters were my first children." She was delighted to be updated on all the news of her eight grandchildren: Elizabeth, Robbie, Kaela, Sean, Brianna, Rebecca, Julia and Liam and very much enjoyed being in the presence of her whole family.

Mrs. Johnston enjoyed reading, music and playing the piano and made sure that her children also developed and appreciated the gift of music with piano lessons and participation in school choirs. At home, there was always music and singing as she played the piano and organized the children in song, playing instruments and entertaining the many visits to NH by relatives from NY and NJ.

She later earned a Bachelor of Science degree, in Psychology, at Keene State College, by taking one course at a time for nearly twenty years. After the children were grown, and and having graduated from Keene State College, she entered the field of social services. Her work experience, at various human services agencies in the area, extended from intake management to discharge planning. Through her association with MDS, (Monadnock Developmental Services) and with great compassion, she with her late husband, Andy, served as home providers to Mr. Robert Wilder, who always remained dear to them. Mrs. Johnston very much enjoyed working with and caring for the individuals and staff she met while employed at MDS.

She suffered from chronic medical conditions which resulted in her spending several years as a resident at Genesis Westwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Keene. There she won the hearts of her loving caretakers and co-residents. While a resident, she voluntarily served, for two years, as President of the Resident Council, a post which she was asked to apply for by the administration who recognized her calm nature, intelligence and skills in human relations and diplomacy. Serving in this post, continued her lifetime of advocacy work of taking care of the needs of others.

Mrs. Johnston is survived by her children: daughter, Andrea Johnston and her husband Scott Wilber of Keene, NH, and grandchildren; Elizabeth, Robert and Rebecca Wilber; her daughter, Laura (Johnston) Robitaille of Concord, NH, and grandchildren Kaela and Sean Robitaille; her son, Andrew W. Johnston, Jr, of Poughkeepsie, NY.; her daughter, Joan (Johnston, J.J.) Wolfe, of Fitzwilliam, NH, and her husband Robert; and her son, William A. Johnston and his wife, Sarah, of Keene, NH; and grandchildren, Brianna Mahoney Davis, Julia and Liam Johnston. She is also survived by her brothers and sisters: John Minett and his wife Irene; Jere Minett Vasiliadis, James Minett and his wife, Joanne; Jeff Minett and his wife, Nancy; and her late husband's sister, Irene Diverio; and many nieces, nephews and friends. Her youngest sister, Janis Minett, and two brothers-in-law, Christos Vasiliadis and Donald Diverio, preceded her in death. May they rest in peace.

When her loved ones were asked for words to describe their mother, they offered the following litany: thoughtful, caring, intelligent, fun, spiritual, devout, diplomatic, a great listener, curious and joyful. Anyone who knew Mrs. Johnston well, knew that it was her family and her God who were most important to her. Mrs. Johnston was a Third Order Franciscan and a Third Order Member of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May she rest in the peace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Family and Friends are invited to call at the Foley Funeral Home, (www.foleyfuneralhome.com ), 49 Court Street, Keene, NH, from 2:00 to 500 p.m., on Sunday, January 29, 2017. A High Requiem Funeral Mass will be celebrated by the Rev. Msgr. Daniel O. Lamothe, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 30, 2017, at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Winchester, NH.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to Saint Benedict Center's Chapel Fund, 95 Martin Road, Richmond, NH 03470.