Baxter DeWayne Johnston, 68, of Belgrade, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 due to a heart attack. He was born April 26, 1943 in Los Angeles, Calif. to DJ and Margaret (Conroy) Johnston.
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At the age of four months, Baxter and his family moved to Hyde Creek, Mont. near the Snowy Mountains on the Johnston Family Homestead.
When Baxter was in the fifth grade, they all moved to Springdale, Wash. Baxter graduated from Mary Walker High School. While in high school, he excelled in football, baseball and chess.
Following his high school graduation, Baxter became a fire fighter. He was badly burned in the Sleeping Child Fire. As soon as he recovered from his injuries, he joined the United States Air Force in 1963. Because of his expertise in Morse code, which he learned from his grandfather, he served our country in communications and security areas.
While serving his country in England, he met the love of his life Yvonne Windle. The couple married on Aug. 19, 1967 in Bedford, England. In December of 1967, Baxter was honorably discharged from the Air Force. He and Yvonne spent a short time with his family in Garneill, Mont. before settling in Helena.
Baxter worked for Mountain Bell and then Qwest (now Century Link) in Helena until 1981. He then moved to Belgrade and worked for the phone company until his retirement in 2002. Immediately following his retirement, he was able to nanny his first granddaughter in Las Vegas.
From 1983 to 1998 Baxter did not miss a single sporting event for any of his boys, which included football, baseball and basketball. He was known as the loudest fan, and much to the referee's chagrin, he rather loudly let you know if he was displeased with a call. The loud guy harassing the referees in Belgrade – that was Baxter.
Baxter was a member of the American Legion. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and camping, mostly because he could be with his boys. Baxter used to tell his children that golf was a waste of time and a sissy sport, but oddly enough he took it up after retirement.
Baxter had been an artist and he enjoyed charcoal drawings. He was a history buff and couldn't stand being told what to do. He had a way of naturally knowing the lay of the land and direction; his family called it a BPS instead a GPS, a Baxter Positional Satellite.
Baxter was preceded in death by his father.
Survivors include his wife, Yvonne of Belgrade; four sons, Mark (Kari) of Billings, Matheau (Becky) of Phoenix, Ariz., Justin (Allison) of Billings, and Nicholas of Dillon; seven grandchildren, Jack, Sam, Abby, Kaden, Hailey, Isabella, and Ireland; his mother, Margaret Johnston of Garneill, Mont.; nine siblings, Patricia Bradley of Billings, Clifton (Stephanie) Johnston of Spokane, Wash., Logan (Karen) Johnston of Hardin, Kleiv (Bernie) Johnston of Lewistown, Susan (Francie) Petty of Alberta, Canada, Kathleen (Dennis) Stanley of Lewistown, Kelley (Dave) Evans of Red Lodge, Casey (Scott) Brewingston of Helena, and Clancy (Scott) Tice of Portland, Ore.; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
In accordance with his wishes, he was an organ donor to the Northwest Tissue Center.
Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at Dahl Funeral Chapel. A celebration of Baxter's life and pot luck will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22 at the River Rock Community Center.
Memorials may be made in his name to: Disabled American Veterans, Attention: Gift Processing, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301 or www.dav.org.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
The family would like to personally thank Belgrade Police Department's Phil Brupbacher, Mike Rassley, EMT Paramedics and all the staff at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for all their help.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 21, 2012