Lawrence “Larry” E. Johnston

November 9th, 1943 – October 16th, 2019

Lawrence Eldon Johnston was born at his grandparents John and Aline McAfee’s home in White Sulphur Springs, Montana on November 9, 1943. He was the second child to Walter “Bud” and Beth McAfee Johnston.  He died at 75 years at the home of his son and family in Billings, Montana on October 16, 2019 after months of battling cancer.

Larry spent his early childhood with family on the ranch at Butte Creek and then moved to the Moore Ranch on the Smith River in 1949. He and his brothers, Don, Mike, and Bob grew up working the ranch from an early age.  He recalled rising early and getting work horses in from pasture for the hay crew when he was 5 years old.  He thought he got the best pick of chores as he didn’t have to milk the cows prior to breakfast. The early years were somewhat isolated from town with infrequent trips to visit and acquire necessities. As a result, he and his brothers along with occasional relatives and friends, created entertainment.  Basketball in the barn, camping and fishing, fending off or teasing the ornery milk cow or buck sheep, and riding calves when the parents were gone, were popular pastimes. He and his brothers attended school in a bunk house at the ranch, and in later years stayed in town with relatives and friends to attend grade school and high school and participate in sports.  He made it to state track in pole vault using a bamboo pole and practiced with a sawdust pit for landing. Larry graduated from White Sulphur Springs High School in 1961 and then attended Montana State University.  On September 5, 1964, Larry married his grade and high school sweetheart, Mary Louise Nelson, at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in White Sulphur Springs. He and Mary finished their college careers at the University of Montana where he completed his Accounting Degree in 1965.

After college, Larry took a job in Lewistown where he worked at the stockyards and he and Mary had their first son, Kirk.  After a few years, Larry and family moved back to White Sulphur Springs where he started his career at First National Bank, now known as Bank of the Rockies, and their second son Joel was born. He worked as a cashier and loan officer at the bank and retired as Vice President in 1987.  In 1969 he became a director for the bank and continued to serve on the Board of Directors for the next 50 years. After retiring from the bank, Larry started a local business Lawrence E. Johnston Accounting.  He retired in 2016 but continued to work on select accounts until recently. Larry was active in community  participating in Rotary, Rodeo Club, Volunteer Fire Department, Jaycees, and member and book keeper for St. Bartholomew Church.

Throughout his life, Larry was competitive, loved sports, and especially enjoyed playing and watching basketball, baseball, and golf.  He coached junior high basketball for a number of years and was fond of the kids and experience. He was an avid hunter, fisherman, and snowmobiler who enjoyed any time spent outdoors with family and friends. In later years, many a pitch or pinochle game was enjoyed at his cabin on Butte Creek. He loved to spend time there alone or with company, watching birds and wildlife, and keeping track of Dodgers baseball or how Tiger was doing in golf.  Larry enjoyed traveling with family and one highlight was attending a baseball game at Dodger Stadium, as he was a lifelong fan. He especially enjoyed time spent with his grandchildren.

Larry was preceded in death by Mary Louise, his wife of  45 years; his parents; and brothers, Don and Mike Johnston; and sister in law, Liz Johnston.  Survivors include his brother, Bob (Diane); sister in law, Becky; son, Kirk (Elizabeth) of Big Timber and their children, Jessica, Nolan, and Darby; son Joel (Patti Jo) of Billings and their son Brock; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Cremation has taken place. Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m. Friday, November 22 at St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church in White Sulphur Springs. In lieu of flowers, Memorials for Larry may be sent to the Meagher County Senior Center, St. Bartholomew Parish, or Mountainview Medical Center.