Celebrating the life of Jeanne Marie Johnson
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Jeanne Marie (Miller) Johnson, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend to many is now at rest with Our Heavenly Father.
Jeanne was born on February 21, 1934 to Karl and Romelle (St. Claire) Miller in East Helena, Montana.
Jeanne was very special because of the way she felt about others. Once you were in her heart you would always stay there. She remembered you for how you made her feel, not who you were or what you did. She treasured her friends. She was sentimental and would send birthday cards for decades regardless of the original relationship.
She attended schools in Helena and Butte finally graduating from Girl’s Central High School in Butte. When her mother was ill, she deferred a year of high school to care for her younger siblings. This was typical of the selflessness and thoughtfulness she exemplified. She was always concerned, always helping someone. After high school she worked at the telephone company in Butte and in Helena while her sister Karlene earned her nursing degree at Carroll College and moved to the East Coast. Her brother Ted served in the military, both in the Army and the Marines. Her younger brothers Ric and Phil were in high school and grade school at this time.
Being kind, accepting and non-judgmental, she was easy to be around. She was quiet and reserved so the depth of her intelligence was not immediately perceived. She could remember names, dates, and facts beyond normal ability. Jeanne could whistle better than anyone and she loved Jiminy Cricket. What most people remember about Jeanne is her smile, her laugh and her sense of humor. She was a gem – definitely one of a kind.
After high school she met and married Wally Johnson and they had two daughters, Janelle and Janice, and a son Jerry. She and Wally had a strong bond; he was the love of her life. She was a devoted wife and an amazing mother. She loved animals so they added a Boxer dog named Candy. They first moved into a small house on Oregon Avenue on the Flats in Butte. Most memorable was their house at the Columbia Gardens. Everyone like to visit them there! Wally worked in the mines in Butte until a prolonged strike caused them to move the family to Livingston, MT in 1960.
Life in Livingston was all about family, camping, railroads and fly-tying. Jeanne tied flies for “Dan Bailey’s”, one of the foremost suppliers of fishing flies in the USA. She mastered several different fly patterns, some of which were quite complex. Wally worked as an electrician at the Burlington Northern Railroad Roundhouse while they raised their family.
They spent a lot of time camping as a family and with friends and relatives. Their favorite locations were Pine Creek, Mill Creek and Big Creek in the Paradise Valley. Nephews Bill, Kevin and Sean have a lasting memory camping with them, learning about motor bikes, hiking and living in the outdoors in the mountains of Montana! This was quite a change from the reserved setting where they grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This was the authentic Wild West in their eyes! They also remember an incident observing kooky behavior from Jeanne, with arms flailing, screaming wildly! What they didn’t see was what Jeanne could see – a Moose in the neighbor’s yard! She was so excited she couldn’t express fast enough that he was there and the danger he posed! Fortunately the moose gracefully jumped the fence and was gone.
Her brother Phil stayed with them one summer and worked at the O’Haire ranch in the Paradise Valley, riding his Yamaha 90 motorcycle that she and Wally advised him to buy. Her brother Ric also stayed with them or rather spent most of his time at the city pool. In addition to all of this, she also was caregiver to her ailing mother for her mom’s last years. Her mother’s vision was to have her blended family together. When Romelle died she made all the siblings promise to call each other on birthdays and holidays, which they did. Thankfully, a mother’s influence extends beyond the grave!
When Burlington Northern closed the Livingston Roundhouse in 1986 Jeanne and Wally chose to move to the BN facility in Alliance, Nebraska. Jeanne continued to tie flies at home. They lived in a neighboring rural town, Hemmingford, Nebraska. Now it was life on the farm. Talk about two people in their native environment! They had a few acres on the edge of town so they raised a garden, built a big workshop/garage and of course had animals - a black Labrador named Zorro and Leroy the cat. Because they always drew people to them, they made several life-long friendships in that small town. They traveled to every place within hundreds of miles: a pavilion where Lawrence Welk played, Fort Robinson, the Black Hills, The Badlands, Carhenge, the Corn Palace, and many more. When Wally retired they stayed in Nebraska for a time and then eventually returned to Butte. He passed away not long after, in 2016. Needless to say she was lost without him.
Jeanne then moved back to Livingston. Her new home was in the Caslen Living Center. She had a bright corner room with windows on two walls and a great view of “Mt. Fuji” as her mother used to call the pointed peak at the north end of the Absaroka mountain range south of Livingston. Jeanne won the hearts of all the staff and always said “I love this place!”
Jeanne carried herself with grace in the face of trials and success. Her memory is a blessing to all who knew her.
Jeanne is survived by her sister Karlene Kennedy and brother Phil Garcia; daughters Janelle Johnson and Janice (Gary) Berg, and son Jerry (Heidi) Johnson; grandsons Andy and Jason, and granddaughter Peach; and many nieces and nephews.
She joins in the next life her husband Wally; parents Karl and Romelle; siblings Ted and Ric; and many other close relatives and friends.
Donations can be made to a memorial of your choice.
The family wishes to thank the staff for their wonderful care at Caslen Living Centers, LIvingston, MT, COMPASSUS Hospice staff, and her many friends at Caslen.
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