Rhoda Lois Baker Johnston was born December 27, 1919, near Blunt, South Dakota, one of seven children of Edward and Lena Baker. In 1920 the family moved to the Clearfield area to reside again on the Baker farm. Rhoda graduated from Clearfield High School in 1938, and began in-home care for Estes Johnston in Veril Johnston’s home. Thus began the courtship of Vern and Rhoda Johnston. On March 8, 1940, they were united in marriage. They lived near Conway on a farm before settling in Lincoln township in northwest Ringgold County in 1945. Three children blessed this union: Ellen, Edward and Mary. Vern and Rhoda celebrated nearly 55 years of marriage prior to his death in November, 1994. On December 2, 2015, Rhoda entered eternal rest at Courtyard Estates in Des Moines, Iowa.
Rhoda worked alongside Vern on the farm, helping as needed, and also gardening, canning, sewing, mending, and mowing the yard. When time allowed, she and family members enjoyed traveling to visit relatives and friends. Rhoda remembered these trips with photographs and numerous scrapbooks. Nearly every season on the farm and trip away from the farm were lovingly recorded by her hand. She liked receiving and sending the latest news by keeping a family chain letter going for many years. Rhoda cared for family members in their home including her mother, father-in-law, and two of her sisters.
Rhoda’s faith was important in everything she did. She quietly and devotedly strived to include God in all activities. She and Vern were members of the First Baptist Church in Creston. In later years she also enjoyed the fellowship of Retha Herrold and Opal Goodale and attended the local quilting group at the United Church of Diagonal. She was a board member of the Diagonal Printing Museum and Genealogical Center, and researched her own family histories for later generations to enjoy. She was a Jolly Jinglers 4-H club leader for several years.
Cinnamon rolls were a specialty of Rhoda’s as well as her homemade bread. No meal was complete without her rolls, bread or doughnuts. Rhoda baked bread at the Shamrock Café in Mount Ayr for several years. Rhoda cherished babies; she especially enjoyed helping in the church’s nursery on Sunday mornings. Spoiling her own children and grandchildren became a natural thing. Birthday cakes were always baked and decorated, then often served with homemade ice cream on these special occasions.
Preceding Rhoda in death were husband Vern; parents Edward and Lena Baker; parents-in-law Veril and Estes Johnston; brothers Glenn (wife Edla) and Joyce (wife Dorothy) Baker; sisters Edith Plybon, Ella Mae Baker, Edna (husband Lawson) White, and Veva (husband Norm) Goocher; and grandson Nathaniel Stilwell
Rhoda is survived by daughter Ellen Stilwell and husband Ben of Jacksonville, FL; son Edward Johnston and wife Jan of Diagonal; daughter Mary Huffine and husband Jerry of Des Moines; granddaughters Karen Marlett, Darcie Stilwell and Crystal Stilwell; grandsons Joe Stilwell, Richard Stilwell, Scott Johnston, Curt (wife Mandy) Johnston, Trent Johnston, Todd Huffine, and Lance (wife Amara) Huffine; great-grandchildren Bethany Marlett, Michael Marlett, Andrew, Annie and Abby Stilwell, Braden Stilwell, Makenna, Chase and Cole Johnston; and one great-great-grandson Ian Wessels as well as nieces, nephews and cousins.
Memorials are to the Diagonal Printing Museum in Diagonal, Iowa.
Services were held at the Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr, Iowa on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. with Lyndon Davenport and Bill Armstrong officiating. Casketbearers were Karen Marlett, Scott Johnston, Joseph Stilwell, Curt Johnston, Darcie Stilwell, Trent Johnston, Richard Stilwell, Todd Huffine, Crystal Stilwell and Lance Huffine. The final resting place is in the Clearfield Cemetery at Clearfield, Iowa.