Mary Ann Graham Johnston received her Angel’s Wings on 12/11/14 in Scottsdale, AZ. She was born on 9/20/33 to Rilus Alden Graham Sr. and Marie Belle Timmerman. Mary Ann was delivered by her grandmother, Olga Graham, a midwife, on the Jenny Lyn bed in her grandparent’s home in Gary, Indiana. She was a firstborn and consequently a bossy big sister to her 3 younger brothers and sister and eventually became the family matriarch. Mary Ann was independent, beautiful, brilliant, stubborn, feisty, and brutally honest. She was also industrious and ahead of her time becoming the first newspaper delivery girl for the Gary Tribune at 12, but soon discovered that snow and bicycles don’t mix. She didn’t do cold! Thankfully, her grandparents moved to Arizona in 1941 and her parents followed in August 1945, although they all thought they were in hell on arrival. Mary Ann attended Creighton Elementary and Phoenix Union High School, where she played on the tennis and softball teams. She also participated in the 20th annual pageant, the Masque of the Yellow Moon at PUHS, which had 3,000 participants and 15,000 in attendance. She graduated in 1951 and majored in Education at ASU, where she became a lifelong member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She was Miss Tempe and was runner-up in the Miss Arizona beauty pageant. She was also a Saguaro Princess at ASU. She left school to start a family, but unfortunately found herself being a single mother before the age of 30. She met Bill Johnston, the love of her life, in 1968 and they were married until his death of cancer in 1974. She never remarried. Not one to feel sorry for herself, she got a job in the food business with Taft Kalof at Arctic Storage and so began a 35 year career in the food industry. She also spent time working at Hess-Perling Food Brokers, ran the Hershey Food Corp warehouse in Phoenix for 10 years and retired as VP of Distribution and Transportation at Southwest Cold Storage. She was in a man’s world of warehouses, semi-trucks and rail cars, but she excelled and became the go-to problem solver wherever she worked. She also became well-versed in the lexicon of truck drivers and was known to chase some of them down the loading docks cussing them out if they messed up one of her shipments. She was small, but she was mighty. She always liked to say, she “ruled with an iron fist and a velvet glove”. This applied to her children as well. As a single mom, she ran a tight ship and expected everyone to tow the line, be honest and treat others with respect. Her best advice to her children, “Get your education, it is something no one can ever take away from you, and the best way to get ahead in life!” She has now passed that mantra down to her grandchildren. To date, her brood has earned 10 college degrees and 3 graduate degrees with 3 more in the works. She became a self-taught expert in history, politics, religion and art and became a wordsmith by being a voracious reader and collector of information and knowledge. She was the person you wanted on your team if you were playing Scrabble, a trivia game, or trying to complete the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle. She loved nothing more than curling up in a lounge chair with a good book and a cup of coffee listening to the bubbling sounds of Oak Creek while her kids fished and hiked up and down the Canyon. She always had a smile on her face, an encouraging word, and a helping hand up if one was needed even up to the day she died. She had a heart of gold! She was a special mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend to many and she will be dearly missed, but is now free of pain and suffering and soaring high amongst the angels! She was predeceased by her parents Rilus and Marie Graham, brothers Rilus Alden Graham II, Garry Lee Graham, and Donald Norris Graham; husband William Robert Johnston, best friends Suzanne Brown, Norma Dixon and Maureen Curran and her beloved daughter-in-law Stephanie Joy Graham, who has been awaiting her in Heaven since October. She is survived by her children: Kimberly Kyle Mohr (Jay) of Scottsdale; Jerald Pierce “Pete” Baldwin (Jean) of Gilbert, Brett Graham Baldwin (Kathleen) of Dallas, TX; Rilus Alden Graham III (Stephanie) of Tempe; Jeffrey Edwin Baldwin (Marceline) of Tempe; and Christy Lee Schust (Richard) of Paradise Valley, AZ. She is also survived by her cherished and adored grandchildren and greatest joys in life: Clarke Ray Baldwin of Plano, TX; Rilus “RJ” Alden Graham IV of Seattle, WA; Elizabeth Ann Davis (Jimmie) of Frisco, TX; Whitney Mary Ann Miller (Jeff) of Murrieta, CA; Christopher James Baldwin of Chandler; Alison Marie Mohr of San Francisco, CA; Jonathan Andrew Baldwin of Plano, TX; Mallory Lee Graham of Tempe; Kevander Elliot Baldwin of Mammoth, CA and Moab, UT; Lauren Michelle Mohr of San Francisco, CA; Andrew Stephen Graham of Tempe; Peter Douglas Schust of Scottsdale; Edwin Alexander Baldwin of Tempe; Eric William Schust of Flagstaff; and Kevin Alexander Schust of Paradise Valley, AZ. She is also survived by her beloved great grandson Parker Robert and wanted to be here to greet her great granddaughter Catherine “Cate” Joy Miller in February 2015. She also leaves behind many adored nieces and nephews, sister Shelley Kay Graham and her wonderful best friends Gari Dillon and Annabelle Paul. Her family would like to thank all the special nurses and aides who cared for her at Pueblo Norte Senior Center including April, Bessie, Carmen, Darlene, Lamin, Nicole, Rakhi, Rosa, Vicky, Yvonne, Jeff and Angie Watrous and a special salute to Vonda, DeAnna, Glessie and April for being there at the end. She loved you! We would also like to thank Dr. Saeed Behbahani for his dedicated and compassionate care of our mother and to Dr. Farshid Sadeghi and Dr. Rajesh Kukunoor for their outstanding care. A Celebration of Mary Ann’s life will be held Monday, December 22, 2014 at 11am at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Rd. Visitation begins at 10am and a luncheon will immediately follow the service. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a donation to a scholarship being set up to honor Mary Ann, at: ASU; Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College; Attn: Kim Rowe; PO Box 37100MC 1252; Phoenix, AZ 85069-7100. Place her name in the memo section of the check. We can think of no finer way to honor our mother than by educating others! Rest in Peace Sweet Granny, our Queen Mother!
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