Oct. 19, 1955-Nov. 21, 2017
Sharon Rae Johnston, 62, loving daughter, mother, sister, aunt and grandmother, died peacefully Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, surrounded by her loving family at St. Patrick Hospital after a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Sharon’s life of unlimited love and selflessness began on Oct. 19, 1955 in Butte, Montana; born to Hanford and Peggy (Shaffer) Estabrook. She spent her formative years residing in Butte, Montana fishing and camping with her parents, brothers and sisters, and grandparents. Her love for the outdoors started at a young age and followed her throughout her entire life.
Sharon graduated from Butte High School in 1973 and immediately applied to attend the University of Montana for physical therapy. She realized her true calling for helping people and switched to nursing, which transferred her to Montana Tech for a semester and Montana State University. In August of 1976, she decided to leave school to marry her high school sweetheart, Craig A. Johnston in Butte, Montana. Once married, they moved to Boston where she supported her and Craig while he finished his bachelor’s degree. Shortly after Craig finished his degree, Sharon applied to Michigan State University and upon acceptance they moved to Lansing, Michigan where she would earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1980. Sharon fell into the job easily and found a true joy in being able to help those in need. Sharon and Craig raised their kids together for 28 years loving them unconditionally and always making them feel as though they had the world at their fingertips.
Sharon, being a family-oriented woman, found however that her ultimate goal of moving back to Montana to be closer to her family and the mountains would lead her to continue to accept new opportunities that led her to work in the following places: Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas; the NICU at Duke University in Raleigh, North Carolina; Pullman Regional Hospital in Pullman, Washington, until finally ending up getting the opportunity to work in Montana at Western Montana Clinic in Missoula, Montana in 1990. Starting as a registered nurse with WMC, she soon was selected for management work due to her tenacity and can-do-attitude which was recognized by her peers and superiors. The role of practice manager came easily to Sharon and being able to work around people, problem-solve and teach gave her an even greater satisfaction in her work. She finished her 19-year tenure for Western Montana Clinic only to take an opportunity as a practice manager for Providence Medical Group.
For her last eight years, Sharon was a dedicated practice manager at Providence Medical Group overseeing its four-fold growth during her time with the group where she was instrumental in that growth. In addition, she also managed the Intensive Care Physicians, Infectious Disease, Wound Care and Long Term Care services. She believed strongly in St Patrick Hospital’s mission and values – Respect, Compassion, Justice, Excellence & Stewardship and emulated those values in her own life. Her coworkers have expressed multiple times that she was a source of inspiration, wisdom, experience and common sense -- always with the heart of a nurse and the patient’s interests front and center. That dedication, care and service was recently honored by the hospital when Sharon was the first recipient to receive the “Spirit of PMG Award” which is an award given to someone who fully embodies the mission and values. Sharon was passionate about her job and her coworkers and it reflected daily.
On Sept. 19, 2009, Sharon met the love of her life, Vaughn Everly. They were inseparable and had a relationship filled with love, laughter and adventure. In Vaughn, Sharon found a true life partner and they lived an amazing life together for eight years. They spent more time traveling, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, snow shoeing, and skiing than most people will do in a lifetime. Vaughn immediately fit perfectly into Sharon’s family with his fun-loving personality and humor and was even titled “Grandpa Vaughn-ja” rather quickly by Sharon’s family. They went on every adventure imaginable -- hiking the Andes to riding trains through Southeast Asia to playing in the sea of Belize and that is just the start. For those who loved Sharon, it was a blessing to see the kind of happiness and love that Sharon always radiated and gave freely to others in her own life being given back to her in tenfold and making her so overly happy for the last eight years. She stated many times she had been so blessed to have had such a person; a true partner, come into her life to love her so fully.
Sharon’s priority in life was always her children and family and her words and deeds reflected that throughout her life. She attended any and all events related to her children – no matter how big or small and devoted much of her life to raising them. She was the rock behind them and when their father Craig passed, she was there in the room supporting all three of them and caring for them. She also gave them a life filled with adventure. She continually presented new and exciting trips or events to take them on and passed on her love of the great outdoors through to them. She laughed. Boy, did she love to laugh. She gave them constant humor and love and always encouraged them to exceed expectations. One of Sharon’s favorite trips was with her daughter and son to Southeast Asia -- Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand -- where they spent three weeks filled with laughter and adventure. Her children will always remember the fun-loving filled life they were blessed to share with her. Sharon will always remain her children’s hero.
Sharon joined many extended family members in Heaven but more specifically her father, Hanford (Hank) Estabrook and her Aunt and Uncle, Robert and Dorothy Shaffer. You can bet they are playing a mean game of pinochle right now.
Sharon will be deeply missed by her two children and many others whose lives were impacted by her life.
Survivors include her mother, Peggy Estabrook of Butte; her fiancé and life partner, Vaughn Everly of Missoula; daughter, Hope Capon (Jim Fisher) of Missoula; son Chris Johnston (Britney Brauer) of Missoula; brother, Rick Estabrook (Tammy) of Butte; sister Sally Dwyer (Don) of Butte; brother, Roger Estabrook (Beth Oren) of Butte; nieces and nephews: Stephanie, David, Brendan, Kelsey, Shannon, Chase and Lauren; her grandkids, Francesca Fisher and Colter Johnston; many great-nephews; a large extended family; and numerous friends and coworkers.
Sharon’s choices in life always reflected kindness, strength, compassion, grace, courage, loyalty, fun, joy, integrity and most of all love. Even through her sickness, Sharon’s faith in God never wavered. She knew she would be meeting him in a happier setting without pain and suffering.
“Because of you, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile a lot more” - Unknown
Sharon requested that any memorials in Sharon’s name be made to the Montana Cancer Center, 500 W. Broadway, Missoula, Montana 59802 or PMHS - Team Up Montana, 502 W. Spruce, Missoula, Montana 59802; affirming the tremendous care she received from the brilliant and dedicated mind and hands of Dr. Sally Scott and the staff.
Although our hearts are broken; Sharon never wanted her death to be a time of sadness for her family and made her wishes quite clear that she wanted a celebration of her life for the life she loved and all who loved her. Her celebration of life will begin at 9 a.m. on Dec. 16, at the First Presbyterian Church, 235 S. 5th St W, Missoula, Montana 59801, with a reception to follow at the church’s hall. All are welcome to attend to celebrate Sharon’s life and share memories.