Colleen Joan Johnston, age 90, of the Cove Guest Home, Sydney, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at the Creative Care Unit with her daughter, Linda by her side.
Born in Whitney Pier, Colleen was the daughter of the late John Joe and Mary Christina (Maymie) (Jackson) Gillis.
Colleen was known to most people in her life as “Nana” and “Ma”. She had a big heart full of kindness and was always there when someone needed her, often giving up her own time for others with no questions asked. She taught us what it means to be strong and resilient, to always stand up for what is right and just, and to do what makes us happy. She also taught those around her about life, love, and giving, all while making a few jokes along the way.
Colleen has meant so much to those around her for the past 90 years and will be surely missed but not forgotten. Her joyful love for life and contagious laughter will forever be a huge part of who we are. As we remember our beautiful and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, we take this time to honour and celebrate her wonderful spirit and zest for life.
Colleen had a gift that made each of her six children feel as though they were her favorite. Some of her other talents included sewing and knitting, which she shared with everyone she knew. She loved to have fun with her family, especially swimming at the wharf in the Bras d’Or Lakes at her own little piece of heaven on earth as she called it, Johnston’s Harbour. She was a lover of ice cream, laughter, and told great stories. As most people who knew her are aware, she was always the last person to leave a party.
Colleen was employed at the Sydney City Hospital for many years as a housemother to the nursing students until her retirement in 1991.
Colleen is survived by her sons, Danny, Collie, Kenny (Pam) and Terry (Deneyse) Johnston; daughters, Joan Barnes and Linda Berger; daughter-in-law, Debbie Johnston; as well as 13 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.
Besides her parents, Colleen was predeceased by her husband of 57 years, Daniel Joseph Johnston (2007); grandson, Shane Johnston (2008); son-in-law, Michael Berger (2015); three sisters, Margie Hartigan, Laurie McCarron, Bonnie Tobin and one brother, John Gillis.
There will be no visitation. Memorial Service to celebrate the life of Colleen Johnston will be held at Pier Community Funeral Home, 1092 Victoria Rd. (entrance on Church St.), Whitney Pier on Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 10 a.m. with Fr. Paul Murphy officiating. Covid Protocols will be practiced at the service and for those unable to attend, Live Streaming will be available. Private Family interment will take place at a later date.
The family would like to thank the Cove Guest Home for their exceptional care and kindness shown to our mother, ‘Nana J’.
Donations in memory of Colleen may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation or Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care and direction of Pier Community Funeral Home.
To Colleen’s family I knew your Mom when she worked at hospital. She always made me smile as she had a infectious smile and laugh. May her memory be a blessing.
From: Peggy Margetti
My deepest condolences to all of Colleen’s family
From: Stephanie (Melnick) Black
I would like to send my condolences to the Johnston family.
Your mom was such a lovely person. I remember her so fondly from nursing school days but also she was a friend my mothers, Evelyn Bickerton, who was the staff health nurse at the City Hospital. Mom really liked Colleen very much. And then of course the hockey connection with my brother Ken and your Kenny. Please take care.. you had a wonderful mother as it was so aptly expressed in the words you wrote in her memory.
From: Janet Bickerton
To The Johnston Family:
Our most sincere condolences and sadness on your Mom’s recent passing. A remarkable lady in all aspects; her smile was simply who she was. Family was everything and the children’s friends were always made welcome. Coleen was so kind and thoughtful especially to us when we were in the Johnston home and elsewhere if we happened to meet.
So sorry for you all.
From: Paula & Gary Kennedy
Our condolences to all of the Johnston family. I have known Colleen for over 50 years and my wife Joan knew her all of her life. Colleen was always a smiling face in Johnston’s Harbour where we all live for the summer months as well as most of the spring and fall. She has been responsible for many of the little swimmers over three generations. She could be seen many days with a gaggle of little persons following her to the wharf where she would be having great fun in the water with them and the rest of us. She was a great mentor to the kids and a good friend to us all. Obviously she raised good children who have been our life-long friends. We will all miss her smiling face and good cheer. Rest in Peace Colleen.
From: Murray & Joan Dingwall
Sorry to hear of Colleens passing . May you all take comfort in all the great memories that each of you have of her.
From: Diane Burke
Terry, Deneyse and Family; We are very sorry to hear your Mother has passed away. From the photo, you can tell she lived a very happy life. May past memories be a source of comfort during this most difficult time. Take care! We care!
From: Belinda and Ralph Hoffman
So sorry to hear of your moms passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this most difficult time.
From: Steve and Leanna Hartigan . Ben Eoin
A wonderful lady…always smiling and affectionate to family and friends alike.
Our condolences to all her family, Terry, Collie, Danny,
Kenny, Joan, Linda, and their families.
She was very dear to me and always in my heart.
The kindest person I know.
I have very fond memories.
Heike and and I are deeply saddened at the loss of Mrs Johnston who we embraced as family as she embraced us as part of the Johnston Clan. She was the kindest person we have ever met and always welcomed us with her joyful smile, and Huge Hugs. She told the best stories and I always listened for her message within the story. For over 40 years she was always the first person to track us down at the Johnston Compound and reflect on Life’s Blessings with Cabbage Rolls in Hand. Her Spirit, Energy, Effervescence, Joy of Life and Love for All Will Always be a Part of All of Us.
linda and family,sorry to hear of the passing of your mother..john Ticker mcintyre
Danny, Collie, Kenny, Terry, Joan & Linda
Sorry to hear the sad news of your mother’s passing. She was a special person and a kindred spirit. A wonderful aunt, I will always remember her great sense of humour and jolly laughter.
Our sincere condolences to you & your families
Kevin & Corinne Tobin
Kenny, Terry, and the entire family,
So sorry for your loss. Your mother was a real gem and I know she is in a better place now!
Linda and family, so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful mom, grandmother, and great grandmother. She was so full of fun and laughter every time we met! She will be missed by everyone that had the opportunity of knowing her. Love, Bonnie and family
To the Johnston family,
We are sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. Our favourite memory of Colleen was hearing her infectious laugh. Whenever we visited Debbie at the “bungalow”, Colleen would drop over to say hi, and have a great chat. We are thinking about you during this time and sending hugs and prayers. Love , Donna and Sandy
My deepest condolences to the family , meet Colleen many times over the years as you was a part of my family also . Colleen was such a caring , giving person who will be so missed . May she Rest In Peace .
Terry and family….My sincere condolences to you and the rest of the family on the passing of your mother. It is always difficult when you lose your mother. She was always so pleasant when she came into the post office to get her mail.
Linda and family, so sorry to hear about your mother. She was a lovely lady and a wonderful knitter and seamstress. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.
To The Johnston Family,
I am very sorry to hear of Colleen’s passing.She was a wonderful lady who enjoyed life and was loved by all who came in contact with her.
My sincere condolences to all the family.
To the Johnston family,
So very sorry for the loss of your dear sweet Colleen. I worked with her at the City Hospital. A dear and gracious lady with a beautiful smile.
May she Rest In Peace.
Patsy and Alan Moore
Patti our children Matthew and Kristian and especially myself will greatly miss such a wonderful person. The hospitality at her cottage was legionary! I will never forget sitting there with Pa and most of the clan having a boiled dinner.Colleen pilled my plate high enough for two people and placed it in front of me at the table.Not eating such a portion was not an option at Colleens table. I finally could see the bottom of my plate and she grabbed it and without any word she heaped more on my plate.She just looked at me and said “you can eat a little more. I know you can”.Well I did my best with that plate then dessert was announced!Colleen proceeded to put a 1/4 of an apple pie on my dessert plate with a generous scoop of ice cream.She put that down in front of me ,even as I protested that I could not possibly eat any more.She just smiled walked away and said “ Don’t be so foolish. you got to finish a boiled dinner with apple pie and ice cream”. All at the table looked on and laughed at my predicament knowing full well that I was not allowed to leave the table without a clean plate.What a wonderful memory that along with many more I will cherish for the rest of my days.My family was very honoured to be treated like extended family by all the Johnston’s.Our deepest condolences from all the Valardo family.
Linda and family, we are so sorry to hear about your Mom, she was always such a special person with a hearty laugh… our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time. Hugs!
My sincere condolences to the Johnston family on the loss of their mom. May you cherish all the wonderful memories of her life. God bless.
Ken, Pam and Malaya,
My sympathy on the loss of your mom and Nan. Though I did not know her personally, I have heard Ken speak of her often and can say I believe she has raised a fine person in “Mr. Johnston” . Thinking of you at this time.