After a brief stay in a nursing home, on Nov. 1, 2019, Evelyn Jean (Kingston) Johnson went to sleep in confidence that the next faces that she would see on the resurrection morning were that of her Lord and Savior and prayerfully those of her friends and family.
Evelyn was born Jan. 25, 1928, in Valier, the sixth of seven daughters of Joseph and Lillian Kingston. After graduating from Valier High School, she obtained her teaching certificate from the University of Montana Western and began teaching at the Burke School, 25 miles north of Joplin. There she met and, on June 13, 1948, married Paul (PJ) Johnson, at the Bethel Lutheran Church in Joplin. The young couple moved to in Coeur d’ Alene where they had two children, but in 1952 moved back to operate part of the family farm north of Joplin, where three more sons were born.
Evelyn was a busy homemaker, helped on the farm, and occasionally taught six-week kindergarten classes. In addition to her busy life of raising her children, she began to make relief quilts with her mother-in-law and the women in the Lutheran Church, gave Bible studies and wrote to prisoners and sponsored dozens of children over the years through relief agencies.
Family was extremely important to Evelyn. Nearly everyone in the family has at least one “Grandma Evelyn quilt,” and every year nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren, in-laws and church members, received cards for their birthdays and anniversaries, all written in Evelyn’s beautiful handwriting. When she wasn’t writing, she was living up to her family nickname of “Telly Queen,” calling friends and family for short conversations to let them know that they were loved by her and by God.
Evelyn continued these activities after the couple moved to Shelby in the late 1990’s. While living there, she turned their garage into the Help Center, which gave her a platform to give away hundreds of articles of clothing and quilts and touch the lives of hurting people. She and PJ also worked tirelessly in all phases of the Shelby Seventh-day Adventist Church, from teaching to running programs, to cleaning the church and mowing the lawn.
Finally, in February 2013, when PJ’s dementia made caring for him difficult for Evelyn to do alone, the couple moved from Shelby to Fairfield to be closer to their son, Michael, buying the home that had belonged to Roy Hensley. PJ died in June 2013, and Evelyn lived by herself, continuing her active life of pulling weeds in her yard, attending the Choteau Seventh-day Adventist Church, writing to people and making even more quilts. Over the years, her physical health slowly deteriorated, to the point that in October 2019, unable to live independently, she went to stay at the nursing home in Choteau.
Evelyn was preceded in death by her husband, two brothers, six sisters and one grandchild, Tony Johnson.
She is survived by five children, Mike (Karen) of Fairfield, Karen of Michigan, Art (Patty) of Joplin, Ron (Connie) of Helena, and Rob (Terry) of Iowa; 16 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; two in-laws, Victor and Doris; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of Gorder-Jensen Funeral Home and interment will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers memorials in Evelyn’s name are suggested to World Vision or a charity of the donors choice.
Condolences may be left on-line at www.gorderjensenfuneralhome.com.