Ken “Mr. J.” Johnston, 80, passed away Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at his home. A visitation will be held from 5-8pm on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at Speaks Suburban Chapel 18020 E. 39th St, Independence, MO, 64055. A service will be held at 10am on Wednesday, December 19 at Woods Chapel Community of Christ 500 NE Woods Chapel Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO, 64064. He will be laid to rest at Mound Grove Cemetery.
Ken was born on January 18, 1938 in Independence, MO to Gerald and Wathena (Beverstock) Johnston. After graduating from William Chrisman High School in 1955, Ken went on to earn his bachelor’s at Graceland University in Iowa, where he began his teaching career. He spent most of his career teaching biology in the Independence School District at his alma mater, William Chrisman, where he started the A.C.E. Club focusing on student character development. He later obtained his master’s from Lesley College. He was a member of the Independence Board of Education, Independence Host Lion’s Club, and NEA as well as being a lifelong member of the Community of Christ Church. Over his long career, Ken received many professional awards including Missouri Swim Coach of the Year, Human Relations Citizen of the Year with the City of Independence, Truman Heartland Community Foundation Citizen of the Year, Independence Council PTA Citizen of the Year, Melvin Jones Fellow Awards for Humanitarian Services from Lion’s International, Human Relations Award from Church Women United, was inducted into the William Chrisman High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and earned the Independence School District Star Fish Award.
In his retirement Ken enjoyed camping, traveling, genealogy, woodworking, volunteering, and making origami frogs. Thousands of “Mr. J.” frogs can now be found all over the world. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family.
Ken will be remembered by his wife MaryJoan Johnston of Independence, MO; children Cari Underwood (Rick) of Overland Park, KS, and Cameron Johnston of Linn Valley Lakes, KS; grandchildren Lyndsey Sutherland (Justin), Cheyenne McHenry, and Lachlan Johnston; plus many cousins, nieces, nephews, former students, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and 2 brothers: Glenn Johnston and Dwayne Johnston.