Gwinavere Johnston
1943 - 2018
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Gwinavere Adams Johnston, a public relations powerhouse who lived life out loud, died Nov. 1, 2018. Always one to do things on her own terms, she took advantage of the medical-aid-in-dying legislation after struggling with her diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). She was 75. Born in 1943, Johnston's roots grew in Wyoming, spending her childhood in Sheridan and Douglas. Later in life, she attended the University of Wyoming. She graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor's degree in journalism. She was a city mouse at heart, so she moved to Denver a year later. She never looked back. From early on, public relations was her calling. In 1971, she founded The Johnston Group, which ultimately grew into JohnstonWells, one of the largest public relations firms in the Rocky Mountain region. In her beginnings, she was a renegade in a male-dominated industry, which earned her endearing nicknames too inappropriate to print. During her illustrious career, public relations professionals from Japan to Prague benefited from her wisdom, as she traveled the world as an IPREX partner and, at one time, served as president of IPREX North America. She had an impressive client list over the years: Coors, US WEST, Qwest, Wells Fargo, Pacificare, the Joint Operating Agreement between The Denver Post and the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News and Goodwill Industries, to name a few. In 2011, Johnston was inducted into the Denver Press Club's Hall of Fame. She was a fellow and president of the PRSA Counselor's Academy, served as president of PRSA Colorado and also was a Silver Anvil judge for many years. She retired in 2016. Deeply committed to her community, Johnston was an inaugural member of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation's Leadership Denver Class and a founding member of Denver's 2% Club. She served on numerous boards, including Mile High United Way, the Colorado Judicial Institute, the University of Wyoming Foundation, Wyoming Business Council, Denver Athletic Club, Outward Bound and Colorado Business Committee for the Arts. Johnston could get jiggy on any dance floor, she loved martinis, and she created some of the most impressive needlepoint this side of the Mississippi. She was confident, direct (sometimes to a fault), funny and a lover of musicals, football and tickling the ivories. She inherited her mother's love - and skill - of gardening but couldn't keep the Koi in her pond alive for nothing. Damn raccoons. Johnston's career was her pride, and she accomplished all of that while raising two rather rebellious daughters on her own for many years. In 1981, she married Don Cannalte, a PR guru in his own right. Cannalte died in 2010. She is survived by a bunch of friends - and probably a few enemies - as well as her sister Mary Apple; brother Bob Adams; two daughters, Gwinavere (GG) Johnston and Gabi Johnston; six grandchildren: Gwinavere (Gavin) Gladson, Griffin Gladson, Grant Gladson, Gregor Owens, Aspen Crist and Cooper Crist; one great granddaughter, Gwinavere Simpson; three stepsons, Doug Canalte, Mark Canalte and Ross Cannalte; six step-grandchildren: Carly Canalte, Alyssa Cannalte, Maxwell Cannalte, Zachary Cannalte, Daniel Cannalte, Haleigh Cannalte, Hayden Cannalte; and one step-grandchild, Luke Pauly. A celebration of life will be held on Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at Quebec Place at Fairmount Cemetery at 430 S. Quebec St. in Denver. A reception befitting of Johnston will immediately follow. In her honor, please wear (at least a pop of) her favorite colors - red, orange or yellow. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Mile High United Way at or the University of Wyoming at or or the Rose Andom Center .

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Published in Denver Post on Nov. 4, 2018.
Celebration of Life
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9 entries
December 27, 2018
I remember Gwin, fondly, from our years together in the PR profession, and specifically Counselors Academy. I loved her style and her humor. She was one of my favorite people in PR. My condolences to her family.
bruce rubin
December 7, 2018
Gwin and I met through the Women's Forum of Colorado and developed a personal relationship. She was funny and clever. She was joyful and smart. She was thoughtful and alert. We did some PR work together and she showed her brilliance ! Her death was much too early. I shall really miss her.

Ellie Greenberg
Centennial, Colorado
ellie greenberg
November 12, 2018
Gwin was ferocious, smart, wicked funny, showed everyone what tenacity was about, and had a huge heart. Her candor was always on point, and she was one of the most impressive PR professionals our state will ever have. So many memories and much love for this wonderful woman. Her life sprouted so many other's successes - and I'm so lucky to have had her as a mentor in my early days. She will be missed. So missed.
Su Hawk
November 9, 2018
Gwinavere was an absolute joy to work with during my 12 years as business editor at the Rocky Mountain News. She offered me many good scoops over the years, and I gladly took advantage. But I always knew she would be back in a few weeks for the quid quo pro.
Rob Reuteman
November 9, 2018
Gwin was a force to be reckoned with in both the public relations world and the community at large. I am grateful that she forged a path for so many of us in the field. She will be missed. Hugs and peace to her family and friends!
Sydney Ayers
November 5, 2018
Thank you for mentioning her choice to use the medical-aid-in-dying as it is so important that others are aware of it. Kudos to Gwinavere for taking that courageous step and sincere condolences.
November 4, 2018
Gwin rocked it old, new and in between school. Always up with the times and tools of PR and business, but never changing her rock solid core practice of PR. She was often the most frustrating person I ever wanted to keep working with. I'll never forget our last 'date' for lunch just before her march through life met the hard hurdles before home. She spoke plain and hard about how frustrating when body won't keep up with mind and spirit. By the time I walked her to her door, she was getting on with day, therapy, activity, etc. As always...Gwin-style (thanks, GG) and Gwin-grit. Even if it seems you may not win the battle, you march on, you march on.
Rodney Bell
November 4, 2018
Please accept my sincere condolences dear family and friends. May prayers strengthen you and memories comfort you. And may you find hope and comfort in God our Father, who loves us, comfort your hearts and "make you firm". (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17).
November 2, 2018
I loved working for Gwin. Gwin was a special person. I really enjoyed my season at JW. GG & Gabi, my deepest sympathies for your loss.
Jayne Kuryluk
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