Shirley Ann (Perry) Johnston, age 88, went to Heaven’s Garden, Monday, July 2, 2018. She passed away from a blood cancer, in her room at the P.E.O. Home in Beatrice. She had resided there for almost 3 years.
Shirley was born to Ira and Edna (Elson) Perry, December 24, 1929 in Alta, Iowa. A sister, Mardell (Holst) joined the family before they relocated to a farm west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A brother, Richard (Dick) Perry soon completed the family.
Shirley was active in 4H, she loved cooking, sewing and farm life, growing up. Due to the distance into town, she lived with a family as a boarder and helped with household tasks during high school. She graduated from Roosevelt High in Cedar Rapids. She then attended Iowa State where she earned degrees in Dietetics and Institutional Management in 1954. She became a Registered Dietician. Her internship and first employment was at the State Hospital in Clarinda, Iowa. She married Myron T. Johnston in 1955. They resided on a farm 20 miles from Clarinda. She then became employed by the Clarinda Hospital.
A daughter, Denise was born in 1957 and in 1959, a daughter, Daphne joined the family. Shirley was very busy with two children, working full time, gardening, preserving and sewing clothes for the girls and herself. She was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Clarinda, Extension Club and P.E.O. The family moved to Adel, Iowa in 1965. Shirley began her employment in Central Iowa by working for five small hospitals, one each day, M-F. In 1966, a son, Darin was born. For the first six months of his life, he traveled from hospital to hospital with his mother. She dropped him off at the nurse’s station or nursery in the hospital and started her work day. She returned at lunchtime to feed Darin. She later was employed by Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. A move to Cedar Falls, Iowa was next on the agenda. Shirley was a Dietician for Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo.
The last move for the family was to Hastings, NE. in 1971. Shirley began working for Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital as a dietician. She became the head of Food Service there. Before the end of her 24 years of employment at Mary Lanning, she helped start the Meals On Wheels program. Supervised interns in the Dietetics field, helped to make the hospital dining room a popular eating destination, and became known for the frosted sugar cookies the hospital kitchen baked and sold for every holiday. She retired in 1993.
Shirley was divorced in 1980. Following Mary Lanning, she became a House mother for Babcock Hall on the Hastings College Campus. For six years, she attended all the campus events the girls in her dorm participated in. She was almost a full- time seamstress hemming and altering dresses for the girls and the many productions and social events in which they were involved.
Her “free” time was always spent gardening a huge flower garden. She spent countless hours planning, planting and weeding the yard at the P.E.O. home. She was pleased with all of the perennials she added. She was still working in the garden in April. She loved traveling. She spent many winters in Florida and visited more than 40 countries. She wrote cards to friends, family and members of her church (averaging 25 cards a week). Some were cards she made featuring pictures of flowers from her garden.
Shirley was passionate about volunteering and would help wherever she could, including coordination of the kitchen at First Presbyterian Church, also serving as a Deacon and an Elder. She was a former YWCA Board member and was recognized as a Hastings Woman of Achievement. She helped with events at Hastings Museum, Hastings College, Area Agency on Aging, Headstart and other community events. She was a member of Kiwanis and was honored with the George F. Hixson Fellowship award. She was a member of P.E.O. for over 60 years, currently of Chapter FH in Hastings, having served as President and in other offices. She served as President of the Nebraska Dietetics Association in 1987. In 2012 she was honored to receive the William H. and Alice T. Lanning Award from the Mary Lanning Healthcare Foundation.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, son-in-law Robert (Bob) Rauterkus (2014), son-in-law Kyle Anderson (2016) and ex-husband Myron Johnston (2017).
She is survived by daughters, Denise Rauterkus (North Platte), Daphne Anderson (Lincoln), son, Darin (Lincoln). Also survived by grandchildren, Sara Rauterkus (Omaha) and Matthew Rauterkus (North Platte), great granddaughters Elizabeth Boll and Krystal Rauterkus and great, great grandson Taylor Boll, (all of Omaha), Sister, Mardelle Holst (Augusta, IL) and Brother, Dick Perry (Lincoln), nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Hastings, Saturday, July 14 at 11 a.m. with Pastor Greg Allen-Pickett officiating. A memorial service for the residents and staff of the P.E.O. Home was held on Wednesday, July 18 at 2 p.m. in Beatrice. Cremation was chosen. Memorials may be given to the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, Hastings College, YWCA of Hastings or the P.E.O. Home. Memorials may be mailed c/o Denise Rauterkus, 1401 W. William Ave. North Platte, NE 69101.