Mary Johnson

Obituary of Mary Jean Johnson

 Life of (Mary) Jean Johnson  (1933 - 2023)



We said goodbye to Jean Johnson, our much-loved mother, grandmother and friend,

in her 90th year, on February 20th, 2023.


Jean was a quiet woman who served her community, loved her family, was loyal to her friends. She encouraged her daughters in their life choices, education and careers. She set a good example and accomplished much while saying little.


Please join us in celebrating Jean’s long and loving life

on the occasion of her 90th birthday,


Sunday, July 16th, 2023 at 2:00pm

in the Landry School

at the Pioneer Village in Dawson Creek


Birthday Cake will be served.



Neil and Winnie Coutts and big brother Bob welcomed Mary Jean into their world in Lashburn, Saskatchewan on July 17th, 1933. Jean was a quiet, well-behaved girl who grew up on the farm her grandfather, William Coutts, homesteaded when he arrived in the Peace River Block in 1912. Her father worked the farm after her grandfather died, her mother tended to the log house on the banks of Saskatoon Creek. Jean collected eggs, reluctantly pulled weeds in the garden, harvested vegetables and picked saskatoons to be put up for the winter. She and her brother Bob crossed Saskatoon Creek to get to the Landry school and every spring Jean looked forward to filling her skirt with the beautiful prairie crocuses that bloomed on its banks. Her elementary years were made more interesting when her Doonan cousins were at the same school, especially Jean who shared the same name and birth year. 

When Jean started junior high in Rolla, her parents decided it was too far for her to travel daily, so she shared a room with her future sister-in-law, Barbara (Johnson) Dokken at Mrs. Forbes’ Boarding House. When she lived in Rolla, her best friend’s father owned the Rolla Hotel and Bar and while she was never in the bar herself, her friendship was immortalized in a photograph displayed in the Rolla Pub.  


Jean also boarded in Dawson Creek while attending SPSSS and after graduation when she started working at the CIBC.

During this time, she met and fell in love with a young man from Doe River, Don Johnson, and after several years of courting accepted his proposal. It was only a few months after her wedding that Jean had to leave the Peace Country and Canada itself to begin married life with her new husband.  Boarding a tiny plane for a 1400-mile journey was the start of a daring five-year adventure in Alaska living in a tiny trailer home near the airforce base where Don was serving in the US army. Low flying fighter jets and tanks and moose on the road were a common sight and Don and Jean’s first two daughters got used to watching buffalo on the back steps and thinking parades were all about marching soldiers and army bands.

Upon the family’s return to Dawson Creek, Meredith and Susan and then Nancy kept Jean busy as a mother providing and nurturing.  She sewed clothes, baked bread, harvested and preserved vegetables and ground moose meat for the winter all the while teaching her three daughters by example.  Summer weekends and holidays were spent hiking, camping and berry picking with the family.


Jean worked part time when the children were young and later full time, at Northland Utilities, to make sure her girls were able to further their education at a college or university. She continued her own education as well, enrolling in a high school geography class and taking continuing education courses through NLC. She also explored pottery and painting, yoga and Scottish country dancing. She joined the Landry WI and the Timberline Trail and Nature Club and added backpacking and x-country skiing to her favourite outdoor activities (always watching out for bears and trying not to fall off logs of course). 

In the 1970s and 80s family members were added and taken away. Jean’s mother and father both died and her daughters, following her example, married, moved, started careers and families. Jean and Don became grandparents and gained 3 girls, 3 boys and numerous grand-cats. 

Jean’s hopes and dreams for the future were drastically altered in 1985 when Don was diagnosed with MSA, a neurological disease that gradually paralyzed all parts of his body, and affected his ability to eat, speak and eventually breathe. As long as Don was able to travel Jean and Don continued to camp and take trips to visit family and friends. 

As his health deteriorated though, Jean took a leave of absence from her job to care for him so that he could stay at home with her until his death in 1990.


A few years later upon retirement, Jean struck out on her own, travelling to the UK, Kenya Tanzania, St.Vincent and the Grenadines, and cruising to Alaska with her good friend Pat. She also took care to share special time with each of her daughters by inviting them to join her on trips to Nunavut, Waterton, Vancouver Island, the Maritimes and Greece. She loved her small Boler trailer that took her everywhere from the Kiskatinaw to Alaska and, most importantly, allowed her to continue camping in comfort.

When at home Jean enjoyed having extra time to spend in her garden and to volunteer with more service organizations. She kept her mind active by reading, listening to CBC Radio, taking ‘Great Course’ classes and playing scrabble. Getting out for a walk any where from Tumbler Ridge, Radar Lake and McQueen’s Slough to Leoppky Park and the Walking Trail, or even just around the block, kept her body strong and allowed her to enjoy the outdoors.  


Parkinson’s disease eventually took its toll however and affected Jean’s mind and body. 

Thankfully she still recognized her family and was able to converse with them until she died on February 20, 2023, after sustaining a fall.


Jean’s three daughters and spouses - Meredith (& Brian), Susan (& Mike) and Nancy (& Peter) - will continue to keep her alive in their hearts as will her grandchildren - Heather, Nicole (& Cory) & daughter Casey, Greg & son Payton; Andrew (& Shalina), Christie (& Nalin) & daughter Marian, and Trevor

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Mary
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium
Services for Mary Johnson
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