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Allen Andrew Johnston was born June 3, 1939 in Kansas City, KS to George Wesley and Marjory Guthrie Johnston and he passed away at Johnston Hospice House, Johnston, IA on Sunday, August 22, 2021 at the age of 82.
He was named after both of his grandfathers, Allen Simpson Guthrie and Andrew Jackson Johnston. Shortly after his birth at the end of the Great Depression, Allen’s family moved to Riverton, KS where his father worked as a welder, then at the age of three they moved to the family farm south of Mount Ayr, IA. His older brother, Neil, was called “Red” because of his red hair, so from a young age Allen was called “Little Red.” As a boy growing up with relatives and neighbors on adjoining farms, he had many adventures with his childhood friends, namely Bobo and Scurv. The boys loved to fish and hunt, Allen allegedly having once caught a bluegill so large a gallon coffee can couldn’t hold it. After he accidentally blew a ragged hole in the porch wall of the family’s farmhouse with the double-barreled 10-gauge shotgun, for his own safety his mother had the gun shipped off to relatives in California.
Among all the activities of his childhood, what Allen loved more than anything else was swimming. He could be found in any pool containing enough water to support a swimmer and had a reputation for being the first in after the ice was off a pond or river. Because of this, everyone who knew him began to call him “Duck.” His father once gave him a scolding (and no doubt a whipping) when Allen was supposed to be running the team of horses putting up loose hay in the barn, but instead was caught cooling off in the swimming hole. He carried this love of water, and remained a strong swimmer, throughout his life. He attended the one-room country schoolhouse with his sister, Rose, most often walking the three miles there and back, or occasionally riding double on their family’s horse, Trixie. The story goes that a classmate made up a song in Allen’s honor, changing the words of the song “Stars and Stripes Forever” to “Be kind to your fine-feathered friends, for that duck might be Rose Johnston’s bro-ther.” Once, no doubt after a sibling disagreement, meaning to write “Rose is a brat” on the inside wall of the schoolyard outhouse, he instead scribbled “Rose is a bat.” Needless to say, everyone knew who had done it.
The family also attended the Hickory Grove Church just south of the farm. It was there that Allen was baptized and began his lifelong devotion to Christ. Allen attended high school in Leon, IA, since his father opened a blacksmith shop in the town and moved the family there. He wrestled and played football, with a memorable highlight being school bus trips up to the big city of Des Moines for wrestling meets. The sport he enjoyed and excelled at most was baseball.
On May 29, 1957, Allen and Bessie Marie Owens were married. They welcomed their son, Ronald, on December 4, 1957. Allen was working at the filling station at the intersection of Highways 2 and 69 in Leon at this time. Bessie Marie passed away on June 2, 1958.
On February 26, 1961, Allen and Sandra Kay Mendenhall were joined together in marriage. Allen and Sandra celebrated 60 years of marriage in February 2021. They had two daughters, Debra Born March 24, 1962 and Darla born August 1, 1964, and two sons, Darren born September 25, 1965 and Delano born September 26, 1967.
Allen worked at Firestone in Des Moines and moved the family to Norwalk, then was employed in sales with Stemco Manufacturing based in Longview, TX for over 30 years. After leaving Stemco, Allen started his own company, Tribomaxx, selling lubricants and other products for trucks and school buses. He enjoyed the relationships he developed with DOT and school district bus barn employees, as these were the clients who used his products.
Over the years Allen was a very active member in his church and community, serving on many committees and boards. These included being an elder and adult Bible study leader, bus and van driver for various trips and retreats, mission boards and Iowa Christian College and convention boards. He was also a board member of the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association and the Area 11 Community College (now DMACC) auto mechanic’s board.
In the early 1980’s Allen and Sandra purchased a small farm near New Virginia, IA and resided there 35 years. He expanded his beef cattle herd, and also began an extensive haying enterprise, making hay and custom baling in several counties in southern Iowa. Countless square bales were trucked to Johnston and James Farms, the family dairy south of Mount Ayr. His meticulous nature lent itself to precise fence building, which he also occasionally did for hire. He preferred manual “jobbers” over power-driven post hole augers and was never satisfied unless all the dirt made it back into a post hole after tamping in and setting a corner post.
In later years, Allen enjoyed spending time in his machine shed tinkering and fussing with his two-cylinder John Deere tractors and other equipment. As a boy, he made a vow that when he got old enough to decide, that he’d never own hogs and chickens. Being a man of his word who certainly could be stubborn, when it suited him, he kept this childhood vow and never did!
Allen was preceded in death by his wife, Bessie Owens Johnston; son, Darren Johnston; parents, George W. Johnston and Marjory Guthrie Johnston; brother, George Johnston, Jr, sister-in-law, Jane; brother, Walter Neil Johnston; brother-in-law, Oral “Bus” James; nephews, Dennis James and Darrell James; and great-grandson, Hunter Johnston.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sandra Johnston, of Norwalk; son, Ron (Jeanie) Johnston of Norwalk; daughter, Deb Scrowther, of Des Moines; daughter, Darla (Rene) Morfin, of Alisa Viejo, CA; son, Del (Kristine) Johnston of Story City; sister, Rose James of Mount Ayr; sister-in-law, Irma Johnston, of Mount Ayr; 14 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; one great great grandchild; nieces, nephews and many friends.

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