Gearhart Anoka Funeral Home

552 East River Road, Anoka, MN


Nacey Karen Johnston

August 27, 1940May 1, 2020
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Nacey Karen Johnston, 79, of Andover, peacefully went to her heavenly home on Friday, May 1, 2020, surrounded by her loving and devoted family. “But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand that an Angel came and called my name and took me by the hand and said my place was ready in Heaven above.”

Nacey was born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota. She graduated from Mankato High School. She first saw Gary at the A & W in Mapleton, Minnesota. They enjoyed their time together walking over the Minnesota River Bridge in Mankato come rain or come snow. After a four year courtship, they married and moved to Missoula, Montana where Gary began teaching in 1961. Two years later, Nacey rejoiced when they were able to move back home to Minnesota, where they would raise their six children. Nacey was a devoted and loving daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. Her priority in life was caring for her family.

Nacey cherished her Bible and would spend hours with the scripture, even when she couldn’t always see so well. She loved going to church on Sundays and when she couldn’t go to church, she listened to a favorite minister on TV. She enjoyed listening to church hymns and gospel music. Her favorite song was “The Old Rugged Cross.” She loved visiting with friends, shopping, (especially with her grandchildren), watching Gopher football and enjoyed many years going to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. She loved her dog and cat- Miah and Kitty. Christmas was her favorite time of year. She loved everything about it; the tree, the snow, the music, the gift giving, and the time spent with her family. Nacey loved unconditionally and touched so many lives with her smile, compassion and friendship. She spent her last days, creating colorful crosses and drawings of Biblical verses to give to family and friends.

She was preceded in death by parents, Fremont and Louella and her brother, Terry.

Nacey will be deeply missed by her loving husband of 59 years, Gary; children, Lauri (Rob) Smith, Tommy Johnston, Tippin Berg, Terry (Tracy Blowers) Johnston, Becki (Jay) Shin, and Jessi (Pete Deutscher) Johnston; grandchildren, Nikki (Casey) Cantu, Danielle Smith, Ali (Adam) Ferguson, Brittany (Joe) Bozich, Ashley (Quinn) Huebner, Katie Berg, Timmy Johnston, Lina, Christian, and Charlie; great-grandchildren, Jaxon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Baby Cantu, Preston, Ella, Leo, Stella Nacey, and many other loving family and friends.

Special thanks to the wonderful staff with St Croix Hospice.

Due to the current public health situation, a celebration of Nacey’s life will be at a later date with interment at Morningside Memorial Gardens, Coon Rapids.

Memorials preferred to Minnesota Stroke Association.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Nacey Karen Johnston

have a memory or condolence to add?

Diane Dunbar

May 29, 2020

Nacey was a very special friend. We have known each other since the 70's. She was such an inspiration, always caring and giving. We laughed together many times and I miss that so much about her. She will always be a part of my heart and in my memories. My sincere condolences to Gary and her children, grandchildren and other family members. Prayers of comfort for each and every one of you. God bless you all.

Dave & Nancy Mastous

May 29, 2020

Precious and loving Nacey - there is no doubt how you will be missed by so many of us. You (and Gary) have been dear friends of ours over many years and we have shared many events together. You were always the perfect hostess (and host) with dinners together and fellowship time. Your love for your family and your friends was always right out there. We love and miss you - but revel in the fact that you get to see the face of Jesus - and we will see your face again some day. May God ease your grief Gary and family as you learn a new way of life without your precious Nacey.........

Faye Oakes

May 26, 2020

Gary so sorry for your loss! Thinking of you often. Very difficult times when losing a spouse, the love of your life. My prayers go out to you. Thank God for family!
On the brighter side, I sure do remember some wonderful times together! All those football games at Memorial Stadium--Go Gophers!
We hoped for the big one and WOW the one we'll never forget. Was sure great! (Minnesota upset No. 1 Michigan 16-0). God bless you Gary--trust the lockdown will end soon! Stay in touch, Love Faye (Georgetown Texas).

Joann Wessman

May 24, 2020

The first and fourth Sunday of the month, I had the pleasure of seeing Nacey and Gary come into the 1st floor chapel at The Homestead of Anoka where Gary would minister to independent and assisted living residents. It was always a joy to great Nacey -- cheerful, loved by residents, embracing of others. Many times during a hymn I would look over at Nacey and see a smile or an encouraging look. She was a master at giving nonverbal encouragement! Do I miss her? You bet! Will the first Sunday back at Homestead be a difficult service? Yes! My solace is to know that she is home now, has seen the face of Jesus, and has experienced the joy of receiving "well done." And I miss her.

Brittany Bozich

May 20, 2020

Grandma- I miss you so much. I miss the way your purse always smelt of cough drops and the way your perfectly manicured hands always smelt of Avon lotion. I miss getting donuts after church and going on our annual birthday lunch. You had an incredible love of animals and I loved that your house was always filled with many cats and dogs! Every Christmas morning you would come to our house and we would show you every present that Santa brought us - you were always so excited, I will miss this.

Most of all, I will miss our conversations. You were always there for me and I confided in you for everything. You loved talking to me about boys lol! You couldn’t wait for me to find the one who would be my husband and for the day I would become what I always wanted to be, a mom. It took a lot longer than we wanted but I did meet the man I was to marry and you were there to see me walk down the aisle. Having you at my wedding was so incredibly special and meant more to me than anything. When I become pregnant this past year, I would never have guessed that your life on this earth would end the day before my little girl was born. Although, you were not able to meet your great-granddaughter, Ella Tippi, I know you were with me when she entered this world. I could feel you by my side as I delivered our angel baby - you had a plan gram, as usual! You always put family first. You were the rock of our family and taught us all the importance of family. You never judged, only loved. Almost all of my childhood memories have you in them and I am so thankful I was able to share so many moments with you.

Thank you for loving each of us so deeply. I will miss you every day but I will keep you in my heart and our memories will live forever.

Gary Johnston

May 16, 2020

Nacey and I began our life together in 1957 in a drive in eatery in the rural town of Mapleton. After skipping school in Mankato, she and a friend Cib wanted to visit my sister Karen who worked at the drive in. As they sat eating, Nacey asked Karen who that cute guy was sitting in a car nearby. It was my brother Gary she said.
From there I moved to Mankato State Teachers College where Nacey and her friends saw me again frying hamburgers at my uncle Al's Topic Cafe.
It wasn't long before we began dating--trips to the Kato Ballroom, numerous movies at the Grand and State where I later worked as an usher. Nacey brought me out of my shy nature and emboldened me to assert my journalistic skills writing for the College Reporter and Free Press. We married in 1961 and drove an old jalopy with U-haul attached to Missoula, Mont. where I taught English-Journalism at Missoula County High School.
Nacey reluctantly stayed 2 years before we moved back to Minnesota.
Our life together was amazing with our involvement raising six kids who all were active in school and church activities.
Thank you Nacey for breaking the shell that opened up a new world of social involvement with teaching, writing and raising an incredible family who came together so wonderfully during your final days. See you in Heaven!

Lauri Smith

May 16, 2020

My Mom. I treasure the laughter, the talks, the coffee stops, the shopping, everything I was able to share with her, I treasure. I remember growing up I told my mom everything, and I mean everything. We had such long talks together. She loved to talk and share. She loved to sing and play the piano. She taught me about the Bible and Jesus. We talked and we laughed! I loved our uncontrollable laughing moments. I often wondered afer her first stroke, why it had to be her speech that would be impaired for the remainder of her days and then the last stroke to lose it all together. She never gave up after that first stroke however, she was a fighter. I am so thankful for the many years we had together after the first one. I have no specific memory to share, there are too many.
I love my mom for the love she gave me and our family. She was so involved in all of our lives. She loved babies! Whenever there was an announcement of a new baby coming, she was over the moon! I recently found an old conversation on my phone of my Mom's reaction when my sister announced her first pregnancy. Mom was so excited. Her exact words were "God have blessed me alot!!". Yes, He certainly did bless her, with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Mom, but we were blessed too. We had you! I will miss you. My goal in life now is to be as wonderful a grandma to my grandchildren as you were to your grandchildren. You were special, Mom. You may not have known it, but you left a legacy.
I will always treasure our last moments together,
Love your daughter, Lauri Lou

Jessica Johnston

May 16, 2020

Pete and I were moving from SF to New York, and on our drive through the country we spent a few days at home. Mom was showing us the new bedroom, always proud of the revamp she and Dad did. Pete accidentally hit his head on Mom's bird shelf and broke it. He felt so bad while her and I tried so hard to hold in our laughter. We couldn't look at each other. But then we did, and couldn't hold in in any longer - we burst out in a sea of giggles. We couldn't stop. I love you mom. Thank you for teaching me that laughter and love will help us get through in life - especially through the difficult times.

Lorelei Kittelson

May 13, 2020

I first met Nacey when our daughters became friends in high school. I immediately knew that we would be friends when I sensed a love for her daughter that I rarely saw in others. Her love was fierce and it never wavered. Through all of the ills that befall children, Nacey was the solid rock that moored her beloved family. The thought of giving up on any one of them never occurred to her. That fierce love inspired me when I was raising my own children. Love forever and always Nacey. ♥️

Glenda Bean

May 13, 2020

Nacey and I have been friends for so many years.
I loved her unconditional love for her family and friends.
She has always been there for me and supported me no matter what the circumstances.
I thank her for leading me to Jesus.
She will be greatly missed by me.


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