Helen Gray Johnston, 100, Lawrence, KS, died Saturday, June 1, 2019 at her home in Bridge Haven Village, Opa’s House.
Helen was born January 10, 1919 in Murdo, South Dakota to Carlyle Leggett Gray and Nina Emily Kight Gray. She was the oldest of their three children. Her Sister, Lila Thompson, is 98 and lives in Mesa, Arizona. Her brother, Gene, was killed in WWII at the age of 19. She spent most of her life in Sioux Falls, SD and was an active supporter of the community.
She graduated from Washington Senior High School in Sioux Falls and was active in girls’ athletics and the year book. She was an avid swimmer and had many stories to tell regarding adventures when swimming.
Helen went two years to Nettleton Commercial College in Sioux Falls, SD. She worked for many years as a secretary and continued to take college classes throughout her life.
She married Max Arthur Varley Johnston on March 17, 1942 in Pomona, California 14 days after they met during the war. They had three daughters and were married 57 years until Max’s death in January, 1999.
Helen and Max lived many places while he completed his education and worked as a chemist. They returned to Sioux Falls, SD and took over her father’s business, Gray Realty, in 1960. They continued with that business until retirement at age 62, after which they had a winter home in Apache Junction, AZ and traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brother; husband; oldest daughter, Nina Lacey; great-grandson, Caden White; and brother-in-law, Clete Thompson.
She is survived by her two daughters and three sons-in-law, Peggy (Ed) White of Lawrence, KS, Salli (Gene) Thompson of Blackhawk, CA, and Patrick Lacey of Phoenix, AZ, as well as by her sister, Lila Thompson,
her five grandchildren:
Jon (Vicki) Lacey of San Diego, CA,
Liz (Joe) Lacey-Gotz of St. Paul, MN,
Tim (Kathy) Lacey of San Diego, CA
Darin (Shannon) White of Lawrence, KS
Brian (Jenni) White of Lawrence, KS
and nine great grandchildren:
Kate Lacey-Gotz of Dundee, Scotland
Zoey Lacey-Gotz of Dallas, TX
Noel White of Lawrence, KS
Claire White of Lawrence, KS
Ellie White of Lawrence, KS
Lena White of Lawrence, KS
Silas White of Lawrence, KS
Rio Lacey of San Diego, CA
Roark Lacey of San Diego, CA
She is also survived by 4 nieces, one nephew, and many other great nieces and nephews
Mary (Bob) Ebel of Mesa, AZ
Jeanne (Larry) Holmes of N. Ft Myers, FL
Liz Knitter of Prescott, AZ
Brad Johnston of Bradford, VT
Margaret Johnston (Phil Kinsler) of Lyme, NH
Helen moved to Lawrence in 2005 from Sioux Falls, SD. She attended Lawrence Free Methodist Church, was an active member in the Lawrence Welcome Club and enjoyed playing bridge often.
Helen was a great story teller and a hugger. She was also very generous and loved her family dearly.
She was adamant about her family and friends seeing her while she was alive, and it was a joy to honor her with a reunion and 100th birthday party in January 2019. In accordance with her wishes, no services will be held and her body has been donated to the University of Kansas Medical Center.