Cover photo for Kathleen Lillian Johnstone's Obituary
1927 Kathleen 2022

Kathleen Lillian Johnstone

April 27, 1927 — November 20, 2022

Kathleen (Kay) Lillian Johnstone (nee Black) died peacefully on November 20, 2022, in Saskatoon.


Kay was born at Foam Lake, Saskatchewan on April 27, 1927, to Lillian and Jay “Burpee” Black. As Kay’s father was a banker with the Imperial Bank, Kay’s early years were spent in Wynyard, Saskatoon and Wetaskiwin. When her father went overseas during WW2, Kay moved with her mother and sister Beth to Nova Scotia to be closer to relatives.  At the age of 16, after her father died when he was home on leave, the family moved back west. Kay then finished Grade 12 at Crescent Heights High School in Calgary.

After Grade 12, Kay completed a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. At the U of A, she served as president of the Nurses Student Union and won the McGoogan Prize for the graduating nurse who had contributed most to the student body. Kay excelled as a nursing student as she was a hard worker who loved helping people. While she later said she would have liked to have been a doctor,or a lawyer, but she could not reconcile the time and cost, as she had to earn her way.

Kay got to know and admire Keith, her husband to be, when they sang together in the university choir, and while she was nursing Keith while he was in the hospital for many months with polio. After a first date, they knew they were meant for each other, and were soon engaged.

Wedding plans were put on hold when Keith won a scholarship to do his Ph.D. in English in Leeds, Yorkshire, England.  Kay, who was always up for adventure, followed Keith and got a job as a Public Health Nurse in Bradford, Yorkshire, where she lived for a year, seeing Keith on weekends. England remained a special place in Kay’s life. She and Keith returned there a number of times on sabbaticals with their family.

After marrying in England in 1952, Kay and Keith had a honeymoon trip to Europe and then returned to Leeds where Keith had a job teaching. Keith soon got a job at Boston University as a Professor of English, and Kay got a job teaching surgical nursing there. Kay stopped her nursing once she had children and was a very happy, devoted mother and wife from then on, always putting her family first. She genuinely loved, and excelled at, her role as a homemaker.

Kay’s first children, Heather and Hilary, were born in Boston, John was born in Fredericton, where the family lived from 1957-67, and Vanessa was born in Saskatoon, where the family moved to stay in 1967.

Kay loved people and made long lasting friends wherever she went. She and Keith loved to host parties, and to keep up with friends in person and by correspondence.

Kay had a sense of style, which showed in her sewing, knitting, and embroidery. Kay seemed to effortlessly keep up with the latest fashions, but she was also just as comfortable in old work clothes—which she wore doing yard work, cleaning out eavestroughs, painting, etc.

Kay loved music. She and Keith attended symphony concerts. A good pianist herself, she helped John and Vanessa with their music lessons.

Kay nursed Keith at home for almost 2 years, before he died in 2006. She later said that being able to nurse both Keith and her mother, and help them die, were 2 of the best things she did in life.

In 2015, Kay moved from the family home on Ferguson Avenue to Luther Riverside Terrace, where she spent 3 happy years enjoying the river view, the choir, church services and new friendships. In 2018, the onset of dementia, caused her to move to the Warm n Cozy Personal Care Home. She was well looked after there, and loved her room, with her familiar photos and paintings on the walls.

Kay lived a long and full life.

Kay is pre-deceased by her husband, John “Keith” Johnstone, her mother, Lillian Black (nee Howe), her father Jay Burpee Black, her sister, Elizabeth Churchill Young (Don Young).

She is survived by her children, Heather Cam (Philip), Hilary Johnstone (Sid Robinson), John Johnstone (Amy Zwarico), and Vanessa Johnstone (Alain Michelet). Her grandchildren, Hilary Cam (Nicola Enilane), Haley Zarazun (Brendon), Ragnar Robinson (Nichole), Anne Lewandowski (Michael), Jay Johnstone (Delaney Fretwell), Elody Michelet and Cedric Michelet. Her great grandchildren, Teagan and Corben Zarazun. Her neices and nephews, Keith Johnstone, Allan Johnstone, Judith Chidlow, Shauna Young, Carmen Young, Yvonne Young, and Murray Young.

Kay Johnstone’s Funeral will be at Christ Church Anglican, 515 28th St. W., 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, Nov 23, 2022. All are welcome. Burial is to follow at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, Saskatoon.

Martens Warman Funeral Home is both honored and proud to care for Mrs. Johnstone and her arrangements.

If you wish to make a donation in Kay’s memory, her favourite charity is

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kathleen Lillian Johnstone, please visit our flower store.


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