Kelton Dexter Johnson, 86, of Mashpee died at his home in the Southport community on October 11.
He was the husband of Beverly Shaw Johnson for 61 years.
Born in Worcester, he was the son of Milton Siegfred Anders Johnson and Beatrice (Lawson) Johnson. He was enrolled in the Worcester school system, graduating from South High School, and then studied at Worcester State College to complete a bachelor’s degree in 1956 followed by a master’s degree in teaching in 1958.
Mr. Johnson became a reading specialist and taught in Worcester for 12 years before his appointment by the Town of Millbury School Department to become the principal of five satellite schools and transition them into a new 550-pupil Elmwood Street Elementary School, kindergarten through grade 5, in the fall of 1968. The school flourished under his leadership, with an enthusiastic mothers’ club supporting the arts and humanities for all students and raising money for each classroom teacher to have a “supply wish list” filled each year. Special staff was also hired to allow use of the gymnasium by the community on the weekends.
He was active in the First Congregational Church of Sutton, especially in fundraising for the construction of a new two-level education/function room addition to the main sanctuary. In addition, Mr. Johnson served as the Town of Sutton representative for a proposed (13-member town) Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Uxbridge; he served on that school committee for 30 years, 20 of them as chairman. He assisted BVR through three major growth transitions, including opening the school up to young women and providing innovative curriculum.
After coaching Sutton Little League for several years, Mr. Johnson gave in to his daughters’ fairness queries and started a Sutton Lassie League. An active member of the Sutton Lion’s Club, he also participated in The Sutton Community Players, notably in a portrayal of “the singing giant” in the “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairy tale set to music and staged by Beverly Shaw Johnson. More than 8,000 Worcester County children saw this musical performed, and when the school buses rolled into the Elmwood Street School on opening day, they were greeted at the curb by the “giant.”
For the first 22 years of their retirement, the Johnsons left Sutton to spend spring and fall in Hyannis, winter in Newport Beach, California, and summer in Canada in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy. The couple discovered Southport in June of 2016 and made it their final home.
A Mason for 56 years, 50-year member and former Grand Master of Quinsigamund Lodge in Worcester, Mr. Johnson transferred his membership to Marine Lodge AF & AM in Falmouth once he moved to Mashpee. As a Thirty-Second Degree Mason he served on the statewide DeMolay Scholarship Committee for more than 20 years. A lifetime member of the National Education Association and Massachusetts Teachers Association, he also belonged to Mashpee Men’s Club and served for many years on the Osterville Men’s Club Scholarship Committee.
As a veteran, he served in the Air National Guard of the Air Force Reserve.
He and his wife especially enjoyed their fellowship with the ministers and members of Mashpee Congregational Church as well as participating in its outreach programs.
In addition to his wife, he leaves their children, Mark D. Johnson of North Andover, Karen J. Gregor of Newport Coast, California, and Bretta J. Wiemann of Balboa Island, California; grandchildren Tyler Wiemann of Encinitas, California, James I. Johnson of Valley Village, California, Stanis K.J. Ames of Salem, Casandra M. Johnson of Amesbury, Ella S. Wiemann of Balboa Island, Kelton J. Gregor of Newport Coast, and Matthew T. Wiemann, also of Balboa Island; two great-grandchildren; and extended family.
A celebration of life service will be at a future date in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada.