Kay passed away peacefully on February 21, 2019 with her daughters Niaobi, Hope and Marie at her side. She was born April13, 1937 in Glendive, MT to Tom and Lena (Montana) Whitmer and would be the oldest of their 7 children. The family moved to Elliston, MT in 1940 where her father had a sawmill and where she met her maternal grandparents.
Kay attended Elliston Elementary School until 2ndgrade, where she met her best friend for life, Vickie Vic. They only knew each other for one day before Kay’s family moved to the farm in eastern Montana in 1945, where she attended Bloomfield Elementary. Kay was so excited to have a girl in her class; she made her mom take a picture of Vickie and her that day first day they met. They stayed in touch throughout the years, naming their first daughters after each other.
Life on the farm in the Bloomfield area was one of helping with her little sisters and as she got older she, along with her brother, helped their Dad with all aspects of wheat farming and hay making. Her dad was so impressed with how well she could operate and understand the machinery while her little sisters were impressed with her perfect tan.
When Kay was in the 8th grade her teacher taught her how to knit and crochet something she did the rest of her life. She also remained in touch with that teacher until the teacher’s final days. She attended Circle High and Richey High before graduating Dawson County High (Glendive).
She married Charles Eugene Johnston August 22nd, 1954 and they went on to have “nine wonderful children” to use her words. In 1974, she was able to start building her dream home on the outskirts of Richey. She loved her purple house. It was always full of family and friends. She developed a large garden, where you could always find her. While in Richey, she donated many items to the Richey Historical Museum, helped with many weddings, church and school related activities. Kay had Kay's Korner on Main Street where she took many baby, family and senior photos.
Kay was always very active and had many diverse interests and occupations and was very creative. She was an accomplished photographer (a skill her Uncle Doug Lince helped her develop), did many weddings and portraits, got into cake decorating and did beautiful wedding cakes, was a seamstress and gardener (she grew amazing dinner plate size dahlias) and she had a column in the local newspaper called Kay’s Korner. She was an avid reader - whether it was the newspapers or books. Sometimes after reading the book the author would get a letter, sometimes to praise and sometimes to say she couldn’t agree. If there was a wrong she was there trying to “right” it. The underdog always had a champion. And she never met a stranger.
Kay moved to Missoula in 1983 and attended University of Montana and finished raising the last of her children in Missoula. She worked hard to support her children and to provide for them as a single mother. She had a variety of jobs in Missoula, the most rewarding was being a Nanny for the Craigheads. She grew very fond of Scotty and Sage and loved to travel with the family.
Once her kids were raised, she met and married the love of her life, Norm Seymour, on February 12, 2000 and they lived in Hayden, Idaho. It was a wonderful time in her life. She was married to a wonderful man and her best friend lived in the same town. After Norm’s passing she moved back to Missoula where her daughters Niaobi and Hope could look after her.
In the last years of her life she kept saying how lucky she was to have all of her children turn out to have great jobs, great families and great lives. She thought she must have done something right for them to turn out so well.
She is survived by all of her children, Kermit (Jill) Johnston, Billings, MT; Vickie (Rod) Albaugh, Shephard, MT; Cedric (Nancy) Johnston, Glendive, MT; Joy (Curt) Waldbauer, Abilene, KS; Justin (Barb) Johnston, Avondale, AZ; Skye (Brad) Young, Ben Wheeler, TX; Cody (Arlene) Johnston, Orem, UT; Niaobi (Joe) Wilber, Missoula, MT; Hope (Patrick) Bowler, Missoula, MT and Marie Fryhling (bonus daughter she was blessed to have in her life); her sisters Tracy Whitmer, Lura (Norm) LeFevre, Shelley (Sandy) Aakre, Shauna (Cal) Unruh, 30 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband Norman, her sisters Glenda and Linda Gail, her brother Randall Kirk, her grandson Anthony Young and her nephews Charles Whitmer and Adam Aakre.
A celebration of life will be in May when the Lilacs bloom. She will always be known for her love of lavender, her barrel curls, lilacs and many other things.
"She may have an old-fashioned hair do, but she is a very modern woman." Sophie Craighead
Grandma Purple WE LOVE YOU!!!