Mary Jo Johnson 1947-2023

Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Mary Jo Johnson 1947-2023

Mary Jo Johnson was born in Minot, North Dakota, on May 21, 1947, to Clarence and Lorraine Friese. She passed away Jan. 4, 2023 at her home in Dillon.

She spent her early years in Garrison, North Dakota. Her favorite memories growing up were adventures on the farm with her cousins. When Mary Jo was going into fifth grade, her father and a family friend bought a bakery in Glasgow, Montana. She attended St. Raphael’s Catholic School through eighth grade where she made many lifelong friends. She attended Glasgow High School, where she met the love of her life, Craig Johnson. As seniors, they were crowned the King and Queen of the Sweetheart Ball, a fitting foreshadow of their future together. She graduated high school in 1965.

Mary Jo continued her education at the College of Great Falls. On Aug. 19, 1967, she married Craig, in her words, her “one and only.” They moved to Billings and completed their college degrees at Eastern Montana College. In the fall of 1970, they began their teaching careers in Lodge Grass, Montana, where Mary Jo taught first grade. In 1971, they moved back to Glasgow to be closer to family pending the birth of their first daughter, Christie. Craig taught and Mary Jo became the Johnson family CEO. In 1973 Craig, Mary Jo, and Christie moved to Dillon, Montana. Shortly after, baby girl #2, Melissa, arrived on June 21, 1974. Mary Jo substitute taught for eight years and baby girl #3, Mary Beth, joined them on July 25, 1979. During this time, Mary Jo was actively involved in Jayceens, the Catholic Youth program, the parish council, and the Dillon community in general. Mary Jo went on to work for Dr. George Johnston as a Dental Assistant until 1992. The Great Harvest Franchise Office was Mary Jo’s next adventure where she was the personality of the front office. Franchise owners across the country knew her and she knew them, one and all. In 2010, she retired to pursue her greatest love…being with her children and grandchildren.

Mary Jo loved being her children and grandchildren’s biggest fan. In fact, she often referred to herself as a frustrated cheerleader since she never officially was one, but everyone would agree she was the best around. She loved her birthday girls and BUNCO crew. They created many endearing friendships that would last decades. She loved watching movies and eating popcorn with the grandchildren, cheering for BCHS, MSU, and UM football, cleaning, organizing, and decorating and dancing and singing into her wooden spoon “mic.” She exuded joy wherever she went and was famous for being the life of the party. Friends describe her as a ray of sunshine and a light in this world.

Our favorite memories of her are when she got banned from hunting camp for talking too much and scaring off the prey, crazy car rides home after church on Sundays, and hearing her voice above the roar of the crowd at all our events.

She is preceded in death by her mother, father, and brother Paul.

She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Craig Johnson; her daughters Christie (Geoff, Ali, Payton, Calvin, and Jonathan), Melissa (Brett, Tyler, Jaidyn (Justin-Paislee-Ryder), and Brian, and Mary Beth (Chris and Tori).

A visitation followed by the Rosary was held Tuesday, Jan. 10 and a celebration of life will be held at St. Rose of Lima Catholic church in Dillon, Montana, at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Mary Jo’s name to the charity of your choice.

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