Monthly Archives: July 2010

Mary Jane Johnston, 9/1/1924 -7/17/2010


Mary Jane ‘MJ’ Johnston, longtime Los Altos resident, community volunteer, longtime Los Altos resident Mary Jane “MJ” Johnston died July 17, surrounded by her family. She was 85.

Born Mary Jane Phillips in Detroit, Mich., Sept. 1, 1924, she graduated from Michigan State University in 1949 with a degree in home economics. She married Teddy Wynn Johnston the same year.

A Los Altos resident for 52 years, Mrs. Johnston was active in community affairs, devoting time and energy to the League of Women Voters, the Los Altos Arts Committee, Friends of the Library, the Los Altos History House Association, the Community Services Agency’s Santa Claus Exchange and the annual Festival of Lights Parade.

Mrs. Johnston loved to sing and performed as an alto in the Aurora Chorus, for which she also served as a board member. After discovering the art of ceramics in 1969, she became an avid potter. Her works have been displayed widely, and she was known for her ceramic dragons.

Mrs. Johnston attended the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco and San Jose operas and enjoyed international travel, participating in Elderhostel programs in exotic locales.

Friends and family said Mrs. Johnston was a “classy lady, gracious and kind, generous and warm, a champion for good causes and a lover of fun.” She was often seen scooting around town in her electric car.

Mrs. Johnston was preceded in death by her husband, Teddy, in 1990. She is survived by her three sons – Richard (Susan) of Ashland, Mass., Dan (Deborah) of San Ramon and Kevin (Karen) of Eugene, Ore.; grandchildren Lindsay (Dusty), Bradley (Cierra), Sheraden (Cass), Gavin, Rachel and Elizabeth; and a great-grandchild, Devin.

A celebration of Mrs. Johnston’s life is scheduled 4 p.m. Aug. 6 in the gardens of the Los Altos History Museum, 51 S. San Antonio Road.

In lieu of flowers and cards, the family encourages donations in Mrs. Johnston’s name to the Community Services Agency or Friends of the Library. For more information, visit or