Peacefully, after a full and wonderful life, Donovan George Johnston passed away on April 12, 2012. He was predeceased by his mother Edith, father George and sister Ethel. He is sadly missed but warmly remembered by his wife of almost 67 years, Betty, daughter Bev, son Jim (Linda), son Buzz (Hope), daughter Les (Ted), grandchildren Dawn (Bruce), Jay (Sue), Karen (Dan), Jason, Colleen, Alex, Pat, Ben and Josie, great-grandchildren Brandon, Britney, Ashley, Olivia, Adam and Elizabeth.
Don was born in Brandon, Manitoba on August 19, 1924. He was gregarious and outgoing from the start, and he was fond of relating many of the good times and pranks of his boyhood. Although growing up during the depression of the 30's was often hard, Dons love of life and fun never flagged. As a boy, he became an accomplished musician in the Salvation Army Band, and his love of good music continued throughout his life. While still in his teens, he followed his fathers footsteps and went to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He soon put this career on hold to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. This turned out to be the smartest decision he ever made, as it was in the Air Force that he first met Betty. To hear Don tell it, it was love at first sight, and the love affair lasted 67 years. Together with newborn daughter Bev, they moved back to Brandon when the war ended, and there they had son Jim, while Don returned to work for the CPR. Two years later, Don was transferred to Fort William to take a job as a Locomotive Engineer, and in the coming years their family expanded to include Buzz and Les. Don and Betty were true partners in life and the perfect complement to one another. They had a great circle of friends, with whom they enjoyed playing cards, going dancing and travelling. As he said with a smile recently, we had a good run.
Over the years, Don was very active in the leadership of his Union, and also on the Board of Directors of the Fort William Credit Union. In 1986, after 42 years, he retired from the job he loved. Don was a principled man who brought personal integrity and a strong sense of fairness to everything he did, including being a father. He was an open-minded, intelligent, well-read, free thinking individual, and he had a particular interest in history and politics.
Don was an avid and talented gardener and his yard was the envy of many. He spent many happy hours planning and planting his vegetables and flowers, and he loved a splashy show of colour! After his retirement, he picked up cross-stitching as a hobby, and over the years he made many masterpieces for family and friends. He was also a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, and a regular cribbage player with his friends at the West Fort William Community Centre.
Dons children count themselves among the luckiest of people, for having had the great good fortune to have him as our Dad. He taught us all so much, in both his words and his deeds. From him we learned about the world, and about how to live in it. We walked through life safe in the knowledge that our Dad would always, always be there for us. He encouraged us, praised us, and bragged about us! The four of us will miss him terribly, but we will always be grateful to have had his love and guidance.
Don was a beloved grandfather and great-grandfather as well. He enjoyed the company of young people and they appreciated his warm regard and his sense of humour. They are all grateful to have had him in their lives.
"you did good". We miss you already
A celebration of Dons life will be held on Wednesday, April 18th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at West Thunder Community Centre. Donations in his memory may be made to Shelter House, or to the charity of your choice.