In Memory

Harlin Dee Johnston

Obituary for Harlin Dee Johnston

Harlin Dee Johnston, recently of Draper, Utah, passed away suddenly on December 23, 2021. He had recently survived a very difficult health concern, and passed away in his home, where he was most happy. 

Dee was born in Ogden, Utah on March 16, 1942, to Harlin Davis and Irma Merle Beasley Johnston. The only son with three sisters, Dee spent much of his early life helping his Dad repair cars and appliances, and continued to enjoy cars for the rest of his life. He never saw them as status, but as something to explore and enjoy. As a youth, he gained local fame for his yo-yo tricks and earned a job demonstrating them at a neighborhood toy store. He loved learning and education, and received a Bachelor’s Degree and Ph.D. in Chemistry from Brigham Young University. He also loved the gospel of Jesus Christ and served a mission in his youth to the West Germany Mission in Frankfurt. He continued church service in many different callings, from Institute teacher to Bishop, for the rest of his life. 

The highlight of his life was marrying his eternal sweetheart, Ann Marie Thurston in the Salt Lake Temple on September 10, 1963. They had initially broken up in high school, but he loved to tell the story about dressing as Santa to distribute some presents in the local church and then going to meet up with “an old steady.” The reunion was electric, and they soon began a courtship that would last for the rest of their days. He often said loving Ann was the easiest thing he had ever done. 

Dee and Ann started a family while finishing his doctorate, and then moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma where Dee worked as a research chemist. Bartlesville is where they spent the rest of their married life raising four children, making friends, serving neighbors, and loving all those they met. Ann died after a long struggle with cancer in 2006, and Dee was heartbroken. He felt fortunate to marry J. Karen Bowers Clark in 2008. They shared their lives, their children, and some time to travel. Karen passed suddenly in 2016, and again Dee struggled with life alone. He moved to Draper to be near his son, Matt, and found a new life with old high school friends from Provo, and more time with grandkids and a great-grandchild. He became popular in the neighborhood as he started a daily walking program that friends began to note and plan time to say “hi” as he passed. Dee has always shown an example of hard work and love for family and friends, and he did that with characteristic warmth, gentleness, and generosity of spirit until the end. 

Dee was preceded in death by his wife, Ann, and his second wife, Karen. He was also preceded by his infant daughters, Roxanne and Suzanne. Parents, Harlin and Irma, and sister, Patricia. He is survived by his four children: Matt (Carrie) Johnston of Draper, UT, Jenn (Alex) Johnston Smith of Millcreek, UT, Kelly Jo (Jim) West of Land O’Lakes, FL, and Jason of Choctaw, OK. He has surviving grandchildren - Jacob (Desiree), Drew, Noah (Chrysanthe), Isaac, Raye Johnston; Alexia and Judson Smith, Treston Matthis, Cole and Gabrielle Dorr, Donovan and Jake West, David, Nathan, and Jeffrey Johnston. He really enjoyed time with his one great-grandchild, Juliette Johnston. He is also survived by his sisters, Caren (Scott) Anderson and Colleen (Russ) Peterson, many loving nieces and nephews. 

A visitation is scheduled at Berg Mortuary of Provo, 185 E Center St, on January 7, 2022 from 6-8 PM. There will be a family viewing at Corner Canyon 2nd Ward Chapel, 13366 S 1300 E, Draper, UT, on January 8, 2022 from 10-10:45 AM, with the funeral to follow at 11 AM. He will be interred in Orem City Cemetery following the funeral. Condolences may be expressed at

Upcoming Events


JAN 7. 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (MT)


Berg Mortuary of Provo

185 East Center Street

Provo, UT 84606

Funeral Service

JAN 8. 11:00 AM (MT)

JAN 8, 10:00 - 10:45 AM (MT) PRIOR TO FUNERAL

Corner Canyon 2nd Ward Chapel

13366 S 1300 E

Draper, UT 84020

Orem City Cemetery

1520 North 800 East 
Orem, UT 84097



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12/29/21 03:39 PM #1    

Robert Y Valentine

One of our many lunches together prior to Dee's sudden passing.  After Dee moved back to Utah after decades as a research chemist with Phillips Petroleum, we hooked up again and renewed the friendship we had in high school and in the same neighborhood and ward.  Shauna, Kathy, Dee and I never ran out of things to discuss.  Under Kathy Davis Clarke's encouragement, Dee lost nearly 100 pounds. We all ate salads although sometimes we cheated.  Darnit, we love Dee.  I weep as I write this note. 


12/30/21 09:45 AM #2    

Carol Ann Day (Anderson)

From dating Dee during our senior year at Provo High, to meeting with him and other young married couples

back in the '60s and early 70's, to lending sympathy to him after the passing of his wives, and then to

greeting him at alumi gatherings--all these events kept Dee a part of my life.  And I am grateful for his friendship; he was intelligent and kind, always.  Carol D. Anderson

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