1926 ~ 2017
Rayford was born on March 9, 1926 at the Municipal Hospital in Hanna, Ab. He was the second of four children born to Fred and Blanche Johnston.
Rayford’s parents lived in the Garden Plain district for four years and that’s where they began their family. They had two sons and two daughters: Fred Jr., Rayford, Eileen and then Edna.
In the spring of 1930 the family moved south to the Alps District. On the day they moved, it rained cats and dogs, according to Rayford.
Rayford’s schooling began in March 1932 a few days after his sixth birthday. He took all his schooling at Alps School to which there were good days and bad, as Rayford was quite the prankster in his younger years.
The hours before and after school were no picnic either, with lots of chores to do. The one he dreaded most was churning the milk. He was also assigned the job of getting in the horses in the morning, giving them a feed of oats and harnessing them before school.
Their horse, Brownie took all four of them to school from 1931 until the day the last of them quit in 1945. Rayford grew up working with his Dad and brother on the family farm. They farmed with only their horses up until 1939, where they then acquired an old cross mounted Case tractor which was their initiation to power farming.
As Rayford got older he did a lot of stooking hay for his Dad and for the neighbours. When Rayford was 14 years of age he was given a bundle team to help thresh along with his Dad’s outfits.
Other than working on the farm, he also did farm work for neighbours. In 1944 his sister Edna sadly passed, she was just in her early teens.
As a young man Rayford loved playing hockey, baseball and life in the country. Among his treasured vehicles, he loved driving his 1946 Ford truck and also enjoyed going to country dances. At one dance he attended in Spondin, he met Mavis Durand for the first time.
On Nov. 23,1955 Rayford married Mavis Durand who lived east of Spondin. They moved his folk’s first house from the Garden Plain area (the north place), renovated it and lived in his parent’s yard.
Rayford and Mavis purchased the James MacDonald Taylor place from Ben Taylor, built a house and moved there in the spring of 1961. In the Hanna North book his family story was submitted to which the end of it said in his words, “After living here 51 years I guess I am getting to be an old timer myself. Life has been good to me and I’ve enjoyed it”, and he still echoed that sentiment at 91.
Rayford had a busy life working on the farm and enjoyed socializing with his many relatives, friends and neighbours. The highlight of those years was certainly the addition of two children to the family. He along with Mavis raised their daughter, Shelley and their son Lee.
Next came the marriage of Lee to Shawna (Irwin) and Shelley to Bryan Lee and the births of their four wonderful grandchildren. He took great joy in his grandsons, Dylan and Tyler (Lee and Shawna) and Brandon and Christopher (Shelley and Bryan). Seeing them always brightened his day.
He was a devoted husband, a great Dad in the eyes of his wife and children and was proud to be a Grandpa too. Sadly, on Oct. 19, 2004 his beloved wife Mavis Johnston passed away. They had been married for almost 49 years.
Rayford followed in his Dad’s footsteps in farming and in many other aspects. He was actively involved in many projects and organizations for the betterment of the community such as the UFA and Garden Plain Community Club. When Sullivan Lake Rural Electrical Association formed in 1952, Rayford’s Dad became the first secretary-treasurer to which Rayford later was also a part of. He was also a member of Hanna Co-op, Alberta Wheat Pool, Rural Crime Watch and served on the Hanna Hospital board for many years.
Rayford enjoyed all aspects of farming and truly loved the lifestyle. He had a special connection and a love for his farm and certainly his animals.
Rayford also enjoying reading and watching sports, especially the good old hockey game and CFL football! Wilf Carter and Hank Snow were some of the favourite musical artists he loved listening to. He was a strong yet gentle man and lived a full life, independent until the end. He lived on his farm right up to 91 years of age. It was truly remarkable and his family was so proud of the man he was.
Rayford James Johnston suddenly passed away on Dec. 8, 2017 at the Hanna Hospital. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten by his daughter Shelley, his son Lee (Shawna) and forever treasured by grandsons Dylan, Tyler, Brandon and Christopher.
He will also be fondly remembered and greatly missed by his sister Eileen Heggen. His sister and brother-in-laws Cathie (Bill) Dacyshyn, Rose (Pat) Matsuoka, Laurie (Gerry) Luciani, (Shirley) Durand and his many nieces and nephews.
He is predeceased by his parents Fred and Blanche Johnston, his sister Edna and brother Freddy, his beloved wife Mavis and parents-in-law Leonard and Agatha Durand and son-in-law Bryan Lee. Also by his brother-in-laws Clifford Corry, Adrian Durand and Clarence Heggen and nephew Leonard Corry and great-niece Nicole Corry.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Rayford’s name can be made to charity of your choice.
There will be a funeral service on Sat. Jan. 6, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the First United Church in Hanna. Hanna Funeral Services Ltd. entrusted with the care and arrangements; 403-854-5956. Condolences can be forwarded to the family at www.hannafuneral.ca
1926 ~ 2017