R. Kerry Johnston

R. Kerry Johnston
Date of Birth: September 04, 1949
Died on: February 06, 2018

Aberdeen, SD-Memorial service for R. Kerry Johnston, 68, of Aberdeen will be 10:30 am, Saturday, February 10, 2018 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The Rev. Tim Sersen and Rev. Liz Dieseth will officiate.

Private burial will be in Riverside Memorial Park.

Robert Kerry Johnston was born September 4, 1949 to Robert Walter and Sally Feeney Johnston. He grew up in Aberdeen and was a graduate of Aberdeen Central (1967) and Northern State College (1972). While at NSC, Kerry was a four year letterman in football and wrestling and he greatly valued the friendships he made there with his teammates. Kerry was married to Susan Bates in May 1971 and moved to Albert City, Iowa where he taught elementary art and PE and coached football and wrestling. In 1977, Kerry and Susan returned to Aberdeen and Kerry joined his father in the insurance business at the Johnston Agency. During this time, Kerry continued his passion for teaching as an adjunct instructor at NSU.

Kerry and Susan have three sons and they were his pride and joy. He enjoyed coaching many of his sons’ youth teams and later became their biggest fan. Kerry also officiated both high school and college wrestling and football for many years. He was a lifelong supporter of both the Central Eagles and the Northern Wolves. He was named to the NSU Hall of Fame in 1997.

Kerry was also an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed biking, fishing, hiking, swimming, and sailing. He especially loved the lake having spent summers in his early years at the YMCA camp at Pickerel Lake where his father was director and his mother was the camp nurse. For many years, Kerry enjoyed time at his parents’ cabin at Mina Lake and, in 1989, Kerry and Susan purchased their own cabin at Enemy Swim Lake. The lake continues to be a special place for the family. Kerry also enjoyed spending time with his family and fly fishing at the Eibert Cabin in Custer State Park.

Kerry was a people person. It was those associations that he missed the most when he left the insurance business in 2010 due to health concerns. Kerry had a keen interest in helping others, serving in various capacities on church boards, Rotary, YMCA, CHS Boosters, Wolves Club, Downtown Association. He enjoyed participating in Bible Studies and assisting those who were less fortunate. He truly believed that good works were representative of the Christian life: “to whom much is given, much is expected”.

Kerry passed away on February 6th, 2018 in Yankton, SD.

Grateful for sharing Kerry’s life and memories are his wife Susan, sons Robert (Bo) and his wife Melissa and their children Will, Ben and Kaylee; James (Bud) and his wife Jessica and their children Gavin, Sterne, Memory, Nathan and Jason; and Micah and his fiancé Stephanie Wang; his brother C. Scott and wife Lorna and their families; as well as his in-laws Nancy and Chuck Koenig, Judy and Jim Koenig, Sonja and John Holm, Kathy Bates, Scott and Cherise Bates and their families. Kerry was preceded in death by his parents and granddaughter, Audrey.

The family requests that memorials be given to the Kerry Johnston Athletic Endowment through the NSU Foundation at 620 15th Ave SE, Aberdeen, SD.

Carlsen Funeral Home and Crematory of Aberdeen has been entrusted with arrangements.


  1. Darryl and Jean Wetzler says:

    We were saddened to hear of Kerry’s passing. We
    are offering up our prayers to you and the family as you go through these difficult time. He was the only Santa Claus my children ever knew. I’m sure, they too, will be touched by this news, as will manny others. God be with you.

  2. Dennis Walsh says:

    Sue and family. Very sad to hear of your loss. Kerry was a great example through his involvement in Bible studies and Christian Businessmen during our time in Aberdeen. He shared that our life is short and he pinched his fingers together, but eternity is endless as he spread his long arms apart and mad a visual point of living to serve our Lord and Savior. We pray that God will comfort and uplift you as we look forward to a heavenly reunion. Dennis Walsh

  3. Perry Sweet says:

    Susan and Family,

    I am very sorry to her that Kerry passed away.

    I have some great memories sailing with Kerry on Enemy Swim. He would like to get that Hobie 18 flying down the lake hanging off the wing seats. I would often get blown off the sail boat but Kerry always stayed on the Hobie Cat. We had one of those very windy summer days and we both got blown off that boat. We laughed so hard when that happened.

    Kerry was a great guy and I know he will be missed by everyone that knew him.

  4. Steven Johnson says:

    Susan & Family, Sorry for your loss! Kerry was a good, kind, man. Being neighbors back in my college days, I remember him coming over and ‘breaking up’ our college parties/scolding us,… Once again, Sorry! May the Lord watch over your family in this time of loss.

  5. Arlette Schweitzer says:

    Susan we are so sorry and so sad for you and the boys. My heart is there with you as the weather may not allow me to make the trip. May peace be with you. Live, Arlete and Dan.

  6. Jerry Soholt says:

    Kerry was one of a kind. His laugh was infectious, his eyes would sparkle when he knew he was about to pull one on you.
    Who can ever forget his ” Well Buddy Boy I’ll tell you” .
    Out on a Hobbie Cat many years ago and I was sitting too far forward … we pitchpoled . When we got the sail boat back upright on the water I said I think I’ll sit back a little further and all Big Kerry said was … That would be good but his eyes sparkled.
    Kerry was a quiet leader but a real leader one who really cared about people and reaching the right outcome.
    I was telling someone about Kerry this week and I was asked how Kerry’s death made me feel. I thought about it and then responded that it makes me feel that I am a bit more alone out there.
    Since we moved to Sioux Falls we did not interact very regularly but Kerry was a friend of mine and I will miss him.
    Thoughts and prayers to all.

  7. Tina Wang says:

    Susan and Family,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you. May God comfort and guide you and your family during this time of need.

    Love always
    The Wang Family (Tina, Stephanie, David, Cally, Charles and Trish)
    The Chin Family (GP, GM, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Nephews)

  8. Dave Graf says:

    Kerry was a football team mate, neighbor and friend. Kerry, Sue, Bo, Bud and Micah have become part of the Graf family.
    We had many nostalgic memories at the lake, ball games, ice cream socials and just sitting on the front porch. Kerry made our daughters feel special, even taking them to events in his Mustang convertible. Kerry had a heart for sharing God’s love. He was involved in Christian Business Men’s Committee and was one of the original organizers of the Community Prayer Breakfast which is held a few days before Easter each year. Kerry will be missed but will be a welcome site in heaven with his BIG HUGS.

  9. Debbie Eisenbeisz says:

    Sue & family, I was so sorry to hear of Kerry passing away, I know that he is now at peace and the eartly struggles are gone, he is wrapped in the arms of his loving Savior and I can only imagine the big hug he is giving his creator! I was privileged to call him my buddy at the Adult Day Health Center. I will always treasure his friendship, I am truly blessed to have known him. May God’s peace comfort while you are saddened by his passing, and recall the many beautiful memories he leaves behind to those he loved and those he called his friends! Rest in Peace my dear friend, You are with God!

  10. Mary Ann (Odland) Stanley says:

    My memories of summer at Enemy swim will always include Kerry and his wonderful family. And he was always so kind and loving to my parents, especially my Mother. God Bless and prayers to a great family.

  11. Kerry was the Heavyweight on the wrestling team when I was a senior and he was a freshman. I remember him as a real competitor and was a team person. Always ready for a good joke or a prank it was a pleasure being a teammate with Kerry for that one year. Sorry to hear of his passing. Dan Koch. Sioux Falls

  12. Mark & Judy Bledsoe says:

    Susan and Family,

    We are so saddened to read about Kerry. May our loving God wrap his arms around you and your family as you grieve your great loss. We were thankful to have known both of you. Kerry was a wonderful man, husband, father and friend to many.. He will be missed.

  13. John Mogen says:

    Kerry and Sue have been great friends of mine for fifty+ years. Kerry was a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He cast a large shadow wherever he went. He has been a positive influence on those he met. Kerry will live on through Sue, their boys and their families. I feel blessed to call him “Friend.”

  14. Rich Huffman says:

    Bummer I hate to see younger people go before their time. So Sorry Rich

  15. Bob & Deb Jensen says:

    Susan, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Kerry will be missed by many and his smile will always be remembered. God Bless and guide you in the months and years ahead, with our deepest sympathy.

  16. Sarah Hodgson Pastian says:

    Kerry was a great friend to many: His unique way of making everyone feel so special was a gift. He was a true gentleman in all ways. His kind words and smile, plus his hugs were wonderful. Gods peace to you Kerry and love and blessings to his families. Much love, Sarah

Share your Thoughts