Alice Lettie Johnston

OBIT-JohnstonBRUNSWICK — Alice Lettie Johnston died on Feb. 10, 2016, at Mid Coast Hospital. She was 91. She was born on April 12, 1924, the oldest of three children to Ernest and Dorothy Hopkins, in Trenton.

She tells the story that on the day of her birth, her father took his horse and buggy to pick up the Bar Harbor physician at the Trenton Bridge. Dr. Morrison’s car apparently couldn’t navigate the bumpy dirt road leading to Alice’s home. At age 6, Alice started her education in a one-room schoolhouse in Trenton. She joined the 4H Club when she was 8, and at 14 she joined the Trenton Grange, where in only three years she completed all the degrees. Skipping the sixth grade, Alice graduated from Bar Harbor High School in 1941. Alice moved to Bath in the fall of 1941 in search of work and lived with her cousin Beulah and Lewis King in the Sam Prawer apartment house on the corner of Front and Oak streets. She began work at W.T. Grant until January of 1942 when she began running the concession stand at The Opera House Theater. She often told of how during World War II, Bath was bustling with people, so many that the lines for the theater would stretch up Center Street and around the corner onto Washington Street.

In the fall of 1942 through 1946, Alice, under the watchful eye of a family friend, began traveling by bus each winter, later with her cousin Connie, to waitress at the Veneta Hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., while living at the Brighton Hotel. Hospitality came naturally to Alice. Other waitressing jobs include the Lobster House in Trenton, The Exeter Inn, New Hampshire and the Rangeley Lakes Hotel.

During the war, she also volunteered as a plane spotter along the East Coast, doing her part in the war effort. While working in Palm Beach, Alice met her husband, Robert D. Johnston, who was stationed at Morrison Field as an Air Force radar technician. They married May 22, 1948, in Trenton, where they built their first home. Their first child, Robert D. Johnston Jr., was born on June 19, 1950. Three years later, after they moved to Bath, their daughter Bonnie Lee was born on Jan. 11, 1953. The family moved again to Providence, R.I. in 1958, returning to Bath in 1961, finally settling into their home on Valley Road in November 1964.

Alice enjoyed raising her children and took special interest in their school activities. She also enjoyed keeping house, cooking and knitting. Alice and Johnny both loved to dance and attended many events at the Elks Club where he was a member. When her son left for college, Alice went to work at Congress Shirt Factory to help pay some of his expenses. After college, Bobby was drafted into the Army and eventually had orders for Vietnam. The day he was to leave for war, he called home to say he received new orders to report to Germany instead. Alice said that was the happiest day of her life.

After many years of illness, Johnny passed away in 1998. Their daughter Bonnie, diagnosed with cancer the year before, died the next year on June 12, 1999. Alice recalled Bonnie’s death as the saddest day of her life.

During the last month of Bonnie’s illness, through the Rev. Alice Davies, the family found support at the Bath United Church of Christ. After her daughter passed away, Alice was baptized and went on to form very special friendships at the church. She also became active in several groups there, such as Sew’n Share, The Elves, The Dorcas Knitting Circle, and Called to Care, where she was a spiritual friend to others in their times of need. Alice said often that she felt like she was home when she walked into that church.

Alice remained active well into her 80s after moving to the Moorings until her sight began to fail. She moved to Hill House in 2014, and then to Dionne Commons in September 2015.

Alice was predeceased by her husband and daughter. She leaves behind a sister, Martha Steinhilber, and a brother, George Hopkins, of Trenton; her son Robert D. Johnston and his wife, Marty Anderson, of Boston; her grandchildren, Jason Gardner and wife Danielle of Topsham and their children, Taylor and Brady; John Gardner and wife, Madison, of Bath and their children Colby and Josephine; and Robert J.D. Johnston of Boston, Mass. She also leaves Del Gardner and his wife Kim of Bath, as well as many cousins, nephews and nieces.

Those who wish may send contributions in memory of Alice to: The Neighborhood, United Church of Christ, 798 Washington St., Bath, ME 04530.

Visiting hours will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, from 1-2 p.m. at the David E. Desmond & Son Funeral Home, 638 High St., Bath. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will take place in the spring at Oak Grove Cemetery.

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