Mary Virginia Johnston, age 87

Mary V. Johnston

Mary Virginia Johnston, age 87, Belvidere, S.D., died Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, at the Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip.
Mary Virginia McIalwain was born July 30, 1930, in Estherville, Iowa, the daughter of Claude and Hattie (Gentry) McIalwain. 
She grew up in Estherville and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Estherville, where she played basketball throughout her high school years. She went to work at various jobs in the Estherville area prior to moving with her parents to Ogilvie, Minn., where she continued to work.
After writing letters back and forth for over a year, Mary was united in marriage to Lester M. Johnston on May 5, 1951, in Milaca, Minn.  They spent their honeymoon in St. Peter, Minn., and Lester kept the receipt of their hotel bill in his billfold until the day that he died. One of many signs of true love shared between Mary and Lester. 
After their marriage, they worked for Lester’s dad and lived south of Kadoka from 1951 to 1955. In 1955, they purchased the Charlie Owens Ranch north of Belvidere, where they remained throughout their married life. 
Lester preceded her in death on Sept. 8, 1997. 
Mary continued to reside on the ranch, and was a member of the Belvidere Community Church, serving as an elder and deacon at various times, along with teaching release time for many years. Throughout her life, Mary enjoyed riding horses, working cattle, and helping with combining and hauling grain. She especially enjoyed her grandkids and great-grandkids.
Survivors include two sons, Larry Johnston and his wife, Jo, Belvidere, and Lonny Johnston and his wife, Carrie, Belvidere; nine grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; two brothers, Darrel (Edith) McIalwain, Ogilvie, Minn., and Troy (Colleen) Nelson, Sandstone, Minn.; two sisters, Lela Kruse, Milaca, Minn., and Jenene Barbknetch, Waseca, Minn.; a brother-in-law, Lloyd Johnston and his wife, Terri, Kadoka; a sister-in-law, Norma Jean Hopkins, Kadoka; and a host of other relatives and friends.
In addition to her husband, Mary was preceded in death by a daughter, Cindy Lou Johnston; and a sister, Sharon Stigen.
Services were held Monday, Nov. 27, at the Belvidere Community Church in Belvidere, with Pastor Gary McCubbin officiating.
Interment was at the Belvidere Cemetery.
A memorial has been established to the Kadoka Nursing Home.
Arrangements were with the Rush Funeral Chapel of Kadoka.
Her online guestbook is available at

The Pioneer Review

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