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1501 W. Lexington Ave.
Independence, MO 64052
Phone: 816-252-7900
Kenneth Johnston

Ken Johnston

Tuesday, January 18th, 1938 - Tuesday, December 11th, 2018
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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.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 | 5:00pm - 8:00pm
    Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 5:00pm - 8:00pm
    Speaks Suburban Chapel
    18020 E. 39th St.
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 | 10:00am
    Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 10:00am
    Woods Chapel Community of Christ Church
    Pastor Jim Carlson
  • Interment

    Mound Grove Cemetery
    1818 North River Boulevard
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Cyrilla Bender

Posted at 12:55am
Mr. "J" was such a wonderful man. I thought he was a great man who cared deeply about the younger generation who needed a great roll model in this crazy world of ours. After reading all he did over his life time as a teacher as well as so many awards I am even prouder to call him a true friend. Mr. "J" you are going to be missed so much! I hope you are making lots of frogs for all those kids that never was blessed to know you. Rest in Peace!

Jordan Webb, lucky former student of Mr. J

Posted at 02:22pm
Mr. J will always stand out in my mind as one of the most genuinely kind people who cared deeply for others and did his best to instill all his students with the knowledge that he believed in them 100% and would cheer them on in anything they did. I'm so grateful to have had the honor of knowing him.
Tree Image
A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Ken Johnston

Jordan Webb

Posted at 02:19pm
Mr. J will always stand out in my mind as one of the most genuinely kind people I've ever known who cared deeply for others. He did his best to instill kids with the knowledge that he believed in them 100% and would cheer them on in anything they did. I'm so grateful to have had the honor of knowing him.

Bryan England

Posted at 05:13pm
Ken and MaryJoan were/are the best neighbors we have ever had. From the day we moved in in 2002 they were always there with a smile and a helpful hand. More than once I have woken up of a snowy day to see Ken plowing our walk in addition to theirs. Need a friend you would trust with anything? That was Ken. Rest in peace and rise in glory, dear friend.

Vicky L Brisco

Posted at 09:06am
I too remember his smile when I was a student at William
Chrisman. God truly blessed him with special talents and
Mr. J showered them on everyone he met.
Trusting the family is surrounded by God’s peace and comfort!
With His love, Vicky Brisco

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