Richard ‘Dick’ Darrell Johnston

Richard “Dick” Darrell Johnston was born at home in North Dakota as the first child to Leon and Etta Johnston. He became a big brother to his sister Delores “Bunny” at age 2 and welcomed his brother Jerry at age 5. His sisters, Kathy and Jill, were born much later, after he left his childhood home. Lansford, N.D., was an idyllic place to grow up, where Richard felt free to explore and spent his summers setting type for the weekly newspaper, The Lansford Leader, working on local farms, driving motorcycles, and flying planes.

He received his Bachelor’s in Education at Minot State Teachers College, where he met Mona Berva Opperud at a school dance in 1950. They soon fell in love and married in Hanks, N.D., beginning a life-long love together. Richard began his teaching career in Wolford, N.D., in 1953 and continued his passion for learning by pursuing his Master’s of Education at the University of North Dakota, graduating in 1960.

His love for teaching brought him to several schools throughout Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota before becoming Superintendent of the Litchfield School District in Litchfield, Minn., in 1969. When the opportunity to take the Superintendent position for the Alamosa School District in Colorado came up in 1979, Richard and Mona moved their family closer to the Rocky Mountains, where Richard enjoyed the rest of his career before retiring in 1987.

Richard and Mona had three daughters Renee, Lisa, and Becky, and three sons, Scott, Rick, and Mike. He had a strong work ethic and adhered to his moral values, yet was sociable, an eloquent leader, and kept a good-natured sense of humor. He and Mona traveled widely and lived in many places, including North Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico.

He enjoyed racing cars and motorcycles. Richard helped to establish the Nodak racing club as the club's first Treasurer and Secretary, while also participating in the first organized season of racing at the legendary Nodak Speedway in 1953.

Richard's love for airplanes and flying started before even he could remember, owning a plane before he owned a car and taking his first official flying lesson at the age of 16.

He was an expert in woodworking and created cherished wooden crafts for his loved ones, which will continue to be passed down to future generations as cherished family heirlooms.

Richard enjoyed reading, family history, eating ice cream, and playing board games with his grandchildren. He loved animals and was rarely seen without one of his dogs by his side.

He was preceded in death by Leon, Etta, Bunny, Jerry, and Mona.

Richard is survived by his sisters, Kathy and Jill; children, Renee and Jim Loehr, Scott and Melissa Johnston, Rick Johnston, Lisa and Ron Weber, Mike Johnston, and Becky and Andy Pierce; 10 grandchildren (Emily, Brandy, Paul, Katie, Zachary, Ronnie, Rachel, Mary, Forest, and AJ) and nine great-grandchildren (Fisher, Trent, Violet, Maggie, Russel, Lacey, Ruth, Noelle, and Ruby).

Richard passed away peacefully in his home in Rio Rancho, N.M., on Sunday, May 12, 2024. His ashes, together with Mona Johnston’s ashes, will be returned to the earth in a family plot in North Dakota.