Gladys Ayer Johnston passed away early on the morning of Aug. 31, at 93 years of age, after a period of declining health.
Gladys was born on June 2, 1930, to Grace (Simmons) and Richard Ayer. She was raised in Newcastle and graduated co-valedictorian from Lincoln Academy in the class of 1948. She was a great athlete, playing center on the basketball team, breaking the school record for the most points in a game (36) against Camden, being named captain her senior year, and helping her team win the regional title all four years. She also pitched for the softball team throughout her high school days. She was among the first to be inducted into the Lincoln Academy Sports Hall of Fame in November 2012.
While in high school, Gladys met the love of her life, Richard “Dick” Johnston. They were married on Dec. 14, 1948, at the Newcastle Congregational parsonage with just Gloria and George Knipe in attendance. Life on the farm was hard but enjoyable work, raising all of the family’s food for many years with beef cattle, milk cows, chickens, apple orchards, and huge gardens with frozen and canned vegetables lasting throughout the winter. Gladys and Dick were very proud of their three children, Rick, Mark, and Laurie, and all of their accomplishments. They had been married 67 years when Dick passed away.
Gladys was an extremely active member of the Bunker Hill community. She earned her 50-year pin as a member of Bunker Hill Grange No. 554, holding many offices, including master, and continued her community service through the Bunker Hill Community Club; she served as president of the Ladies Aid from 1986 to 2011, and chair of the Strawberry Festival for decades; and she faithfully attended the Bunker Hill Baptist Church, serving as clerk for 16 years. Gladys and Dick received the Community Service Award in 2005 from the Bunker Hill Grange, and Gladys was recognized for her community service by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners in 2016.
Gladys played tennis (with a killer serve) until she was 79 years old, and her most favorite pastime (especially in her later years) was playing Aw Shucks and 63 card games with her family and friends. The joke was if she ever turned down the opportunity to play cards, we were calling an ambulance!
Gladys will be fondly remembered for her kind, caring, and welcoming spirit, her delicious pies and doughnuts, her community commitment, and most importantly, her undying love for her family. One of her friends said, “What a long and lovely life she traveled, leaving so much goodness, joy, and accomplishments along her path! She exhibited a pillar of strength for us all and gave us courage to get-up-and-go and get things done. I loved her for that and will continue to think, ‘Now, what would Gladys want us to do?’”
Gladys is survived by her three children, Rick Johnston (Genne), of Glen Allen, Va., Mark Johnston (Judy), of Manchester, and Laurie Bouchard (Jeff), of Jefferson; her four grandchildren, Sean (Melanie) Johnston, of Burke, Va., Katie Johnston, of Yorktown, Va., Dustin Bouchard (Mallory), of Jefferson, and Elizabeth Corkum (Casey), of Gray; her great-grandchildren, Grayson and Rowan Corkum, and Lilly Johnston; her sister, Barbara Vannah, of Waldoboro; many nieces and nephews; and her adoring cat, Mitzi. The family is immensely grateful to Meccasue Simmons, who lived with Gladys full time as her caregiver for nearly three years, allowing her to stay in her home.
A private memorial service for the immediate family members was held at the Bunker Hill Baptist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 5. If they wish, family and friends are invited to donate in her memory to the Bunker Hill Baptist Church, c/o Mark Johnston, 244 Kerns Hill Road, Manchester, ME 04351.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main St., Damariscotta, ME 04543. Condolences, and messages for her family, may be expressed by visiting stronghancock.com.