Jane Johnston

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Jane Johnston, assistant superintendent for the Stanislaus County Office of Education in Modesto, Calif., died Friday in a Sacramento hospital after a car accident Thursday night.

Johnston, 60, was on her way to the Sacramento airport when she slumped over at the wheel and veered left into the center divider on Highway 5 just south of Sacramento, according to her husband, Tom Johnston. She had planned to park her car at the airport and fly to San Diego to visit their daughter and two grandchildren.

Johnston died about 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, 2012, said Vicki Bowman, prevention director for the Office of Education.

"I knew Jane for more than 30 years," Bowman said. "She was always there for me. It's a huge loss for our organization and for her family and friends."

Johnston was with the county office of education for about 20 years and worked for the Empire School District before that. The Johnstons have two adult daughters and four grandchildren.

Tom Changnon, county schools superintendent, said Johnston was a cornerstone for the success of the organization.

She was responsible for initiatives such as the fitness and civility programs. Her duties for the SCOE included overseeing publications and the communications staff.

"She has been a mentor for so many people," Changnon said. "It's difficult to accept that just yesterday we were planning our calendars and the other things that are going on. Now, she is not with us. It is just a bad dream."

Johnston was raised in the Tracy area and graduated from Tracy High School. She earned a communications degree from California State University, Stanislaus.

Published in the Modesto Bee from Apr. 14 to May 1, 2012
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