Sandy (Stecher) Johnson, age 70, passed away on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at her home on Happy Flats in Hinsdale, Mont., from complications of Primary Progressive Aphasia.
A celebration of Sandy's life will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the Glasgow Assembly of God Church. The Johnson family respectfully requests that Sandy's friends would honor her love of sharing stories by coming prepared with a few of their own.
She was born on April 27, 1946, in Woodbury, N.J. and grew to be a vivacious, animated woman, blessed with talents and strengths. She loved making cakes, music, dancing, and laughing. Blessed with the gift of gab, Sandy thrived building friendships and making others feel welcome and loved, particularly the broken-hearted and marginalized.
She was a pioneer in her own right, a proud "Jersey girl" who built a life and family with her husband and best friend, Darwin, on the frontier of northeastern Montana. Sandy and Darwin met in 1967 in Lake View, N.J. when Darwin, a Navy sailor, docked there to commission a ship. A whirlwind, coast-to-coast romance culminated in marriage seven months later. After living in Bremerton, Wash. and Long Beach, Calif. while Darwin finished his military service, the pair returned - much to Sandy's surprise - to the Johnson family farm north of Hinsdale in 1968.
She made a home out of their trailer house on the farm. Darwin and Sandy were blessed with two children, Matthew and Paige. She was a loving and protective mother committed to maintaining family relationships, her children spending every other Christmas in New Jersey and summers with relatives in both Montana and New Jersey.
A faithful Christian and prayer warrior, she devoted her energy to sharing the gospel. Honoring the Lord's Sabbath was a priority for her (to the extent the Johnsons stopped branding on Sundays) and she went to church every weekend. If weather forced the family to stay on the farm on a church day, Sandy held Sunday School at home.
She was courageous, facing her fears of illness after diagnosis of a neurological syndrome affecting her speech and compromising her immune system. Sandy participated in a study group at Mayo Clinic for five years to help advance the science and understanding of her condition. While disease robbed her of her speech, it failed to affect her faith, hope, and capacity for love and encouragement. She continued to touch people (and hearts) through hugs and kisses to family and friends. Sandy has victory over death and illness through faith, and her family takes comfort knowing she sings with the Lord now.
Sandy is now happily reunited, in the presence of her Lord, with her dear friend and sister, Jean, and their parents, Daniel and Theresa Stecher.
She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Darwin Johnson; two children, Matthew (Sonja) Johnson and Paige (Jason) Miller of Hinsdale; three grandchildren, Chaz and Brett Johnson and Gabe Miller; one brother, Daniel and one sister, Gloria, both of New Jersey; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Bell Mortuary is in charge of arrangements and condolences for the family may be left at bellmortuarymontana.com.