In Memory of Marilyn "Rae" Johnston

Celebration of Life

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Thursday August 30, 2018
O'Connell-Benedict Funeral Home of River Falls
225 South 3rd Street
River Falls WI, 54022

Memorial Service

7:00 pm
Thursday August 30, 2018
O'Connell-Benedict Funeral Home of River Falls
225 South 3rd Street
River Falls WI, 54022

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Marilyn Rachel “Rae” Johnston, age 79 of River Falls, WI, passed away August 22, 2018 at the Red Cedar Canyon in Hudson, WI, with her family by her side. Marilyn “Rae” was born July 7, 1939 in West Newton, PA to Edward and Harriet (Blackburn) Newlin. She graduated from Hersey High School, the Class of 1957. After High School, Rae furthered her education at Penn State University, becoming the first woman to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Dairy Science. She was united in marriage to Dr. Richard “Peery” Johnston Jr. on December 23, 1962. Their marriage was blessed with a daughter, Karen, and son, Brian. Rae lived out her life long passion in agriculture working as a Feed Mill Manager in River Falls and South St. Paul, and working in the Animal Science and Plant & Earth Science programs at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls.

Rae loved horses and gardening. She was very involved in the horse and dairy community, as well as the local garden club. She most delighted in maintaining over an acre of gardens, riding and caring for horses. Her involvement in the University brought many dear friends to her life. This demonstrated to her children the value of friendship as family. Rae was a loving mother and a great support to her children in 4H while they were growing up. She also appreciated her time with family and friends, and took great pleasure in bridge club and playing poker. Remaining active was important to Rae and she enjoyed her walks throughout River Falls. Rae was a longtime member of the United Methodist Church in River Falls.

Rae will remain in the hearts of her daughter, Karen Johnston of St. Paul, MN; son, Brian (Denise) Johnston of Milltown, WI; grandsons, Mitchell and Reese; granddaughter, RaeAnna; sister, Marsha Fortney of Harrisburg, PA; brother-in-law, Dr. J. Oneal Johnston of Cincinnati, OH; other relatives and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Richard “Peery” Johnston; her parents; and brother-in-law, Bob Fortney.

A Celebration of Rae’s Life will take place 4:00 – 7:00 PM, with a Memorial Service at 7:00 PM Thursday, August 30, 2018 at O’Connell-Benedict Family Funeral Home, 225 S. Third St., River Falls. Private interment will take place at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.

A special thank you to St. Croix Hospice and Red Cedar Canyon – Cove for their loving care and friendship.

Marilyn "Rae"'s Tribute Wall

Tributes (5):

  • “We don’t walk alone…those we love are always with us.” This says it all. We were co-workers, friends and neighbors. We walked many miles around Lake George, Glen Park and campus during her years of service at UW-River Falls. At the office Rae had us rolling in laughter. I delighted in Rae’s snickering, giddy laugh and sometimes even snorts! I can’t begin to tell you all the things Rae personally taught me and shared. She motivated me to exercise and to be a healthier person in both body and mind. Rae filled a void in my life that I didn’t even realize that I had. Rae was encouraging. She was a true friend. Rae gave me a small note that I read often and hold dear to my heart, “LIVE SIMPLE, LOVE GENEROUSLY, CARE DEEPLY, SPEAK KINDLY, LEAVE THE REST TO GOD.”

  • Rae was my neighbor and friend. I’ll miss her quick wit and feisty independent spirit. She always seemed to find the positive in any situation. I enjoyed stopping over for a chat and helping her with one of her jigsaw puzzles or checking out the latest lambs or taking her to church to meet with our study group. Her homemade soup was known to cure all ails! Rae has been a blessing in my life in many different ways. My deepest sympathies to her family and dear friends.

  • Rae, my sister-in-law, was a special lady in my heart. She had a great gift of friendship supported with laughter and similes that she shared with all she met. A sincere compassion for family, friends and her animals that she so dearly loved. She was the old fashion farm gal raised with those basic values that carry you through life as if “riding on a tall horse in high cotton”. Rae imparted those values to her children, Karen and Brian, through farm work, 4-H, livestock judging, gardening and food preparation. To a life well lived, to a Lord well served may her soul rest in Peace with her beloved husband, Peery. My thoughts and prayers for comfort go out to her children and their circles of family and friends. God Bless.

  • As a neighbor and friend, I had the privilege of babysitting for Rae and Peery for a number of years. They were warm and kind friends. I will miss Rae’s ready smile and our many horse related discussions. May she Rest In Peace in a heaven full of horses.

  • We were so very sorry to hear of Rae’s passing. She was a lovely person to be around with a great laugh and wonderful personality. She truly was your friend from the moment you met her. Our sympathy is with the entire family and we will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers.