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Teaching Couple an Inseparable Team

September 02, 2008
obituary Teaching couple an inseparable team By Virginia Culver The Denver Post Article Launched: 07/27/2008 12:30:00 AM MDT Marilyn and Grant Johnstone met while on the staff at Pecos Junior High in Northglenn. They died within hours of each other last Monday. (Courtesy of the family )Marilyn and Grant Johnstone were a team from the time they started dating through their marriage, their careers and their retirement. And they died Tuesday within hours of each other. A service is planned for them at 10 a.m. Monday at Colorado Community Church in Englewood, 3651 S. Colorado Blvd. Marilyn Johnstone was visiting her husband at Good Samaritan Hospital in Louisville, where he had been for 10 days, suffering from emphysema that led to bleeding from the lung. They had agreed earlier that if either of them was in terminal condition, the other would end the suffering, so Marilyn Johnstone asked that her husband be taken off the ventilator, said longtime friend Chris Sundberg. Not long after that was done last Monday, Marilyn Johnstone began to feel weak and was taken to the emergency room. She had suffered a stroke, and they both died the next day, she just a few hours after him, said Cary Baird, one of about 20 friends and family members gathered at the hospital. The Johnstones had no children, "but they touched the lives of hundreds of students" during their school years and for years afterward, Baird said. "They were always teaching," whether in the classroom or not, said Marilyn Johnstone's nephew, Ken Stuart of Parker. He learned things from the Johnstones all his life, he said, and it was the same with his son, Austin Stuart, who developed an interest in American history because of Grant Johnstone. "Teaching just came natural to them and they knew how to make it interesting," Stuart said. "They had an amazing ability to see students as people, not just students," said Sundberg, a former board member of Adams County School District 12. "Kids saw that respect in them and saw Marilyn's and Grant's love for learning," Sundberg said. "She would tell problem students at the beginning of the year that they would go from being F students to C students," said her sister, Rose Richmond of Tigard, Ore. "I don't think she ever failed." Marilyn Philpott was born in Denver on July 22, 1950, graduated from Alameda High School and earned her bachelor's degree in English and history from McPherson College in McPherson, Kan. Her first teaching job was in a middle school in Omaha's inner city. She later returned to Denver and began teaching at Pecos Junior High School in Northglenn, where Grant Johnstone was on the staff. They married March 21, 1981. They taught at various schools in the metro area. She is survived by two other sisters, Carol Kearns of Elizabeth and LaVonne Duran of San Jose, Calif.; one brother, John Philpott, of Centennial; and several nieces and nephews. Grant Johnstone was born in Palo Alto, Calif., on Aug. 9, 1944, and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish at the University of Kansas and a master's degree in education at Colorado State University. He is survived by his brother, Keith Johnstone of Albuquerque, N.M., and several nieces and nephews. Virginia Culver: 303-954-1223 or vculver@denverpost.com