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Life Story / Obituary
With unending devotion to the people she loved most, Tammy Johnston was a blessing to everyone she met. She had the most beautiful smile and a great sense of humor, too. A longtime resident of the community she loved, Tammy was the sort of person who never met a stranger as she was bubbly, outgoing, and sincere. It was easy to see that she loved being surrounded by her family, and she always had a way of making even the ordinary seem extraordinary. With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Tammy leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of all who were blessed to know and love her.
The 1950s were an exciting time in American history when technology was advancing at an alarming rate. James Dean captivated young girls on the silver screen and televisions were becoming a part of the average American home. Elvis Presley took the music world by storm, and by the end of the decade Alaska and Hawaii were our 49th and 50th states. It was as the heat of the summer held the city of Sumter, South Carolina, firmly in its grip that Richard and Marilyn (Tuller) Majewski were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Tammy J. drew her first breath on July 17th. She was the oldest of nine children in her family, and since her father was in the Air Force they moved around a bit during her earliest years.
After spending some time in Sumter, the family moved to Oxnard, California. After about a year, the Majewski family moved to South Bend, Indiana, for a brief time before finally coming to Kalamazoo, Michigan, when she was around the age of seven. Tammy attended local schools including Otsego High School where she was an outgoing social butterfly with oodles of friends. Her socializing didn’t get in the way of her studies, however, as she also made excellent grades.
Tammy graduated from high school in 1976, and she was eager for all that life had in store. She did some office work and then ended up getting a job at Alvan, which would prove to be quite fateful for her. It was at work that Tammy met the man of her dreams. His name was Bryan Johnston, and sparks flew right from the start, although it was nearly a year before they officially began dating. Their love grew over time, and with a desire to establish a life together the sweethearts were married on June 18, 1982, at the Kalamazoo Court House.
Together Tammy and Bryan shared a wonderful life. Although they never had children, their lives were abundantly blessed. Tammy loved shopping for her “kids,” her 10 nieces and nephews, and it was a team effort since Bryan usually ended up assembling her treasures the night before. She always had a need for plenty of bags for them as Tammy lived to spoil these special kids. As someone who enjoyed both cooking and baking, she made sure that no one went hungry at family gatherings. Among the favorites were her lasagna and her lime green jello, which was a holiday treat. Tammy even brought enough so that the kids had some to take home. It has also been said that she had a tendency to go overboard as if she was supposed to bring one of something, she often brought 10! For the holidays Tammy always brought presents for everyone, and it could be argued that she had the most fun during the whole opening process. Tammy and Bryan also welcomed plenty of pets into their hearts and home. She treasured the companionship of her most recent dog, Woofy, over a ten year period. Woofy became part of Tammy’s life around the same time that she was diagnosed with breast cancer almost ten years ago, and it was the friendship and love of her dog that brought her such comfort after Bryan died in 2010. Woofy died just this past June. Over the years Tammy certainly loved her dogs, and she took in many strays that she managed to get placed in homes through working alongside her vet.
Throughout her life Tammy was a bustle of activity. She enjoyed working as an office clerk at Alvan, which she did for 30 years. Most times, Tammy worked third shift. During their younger years she enjoyed camping with Bryan and friends including trips to Cedar Point and other small campgrounds like Silver Lake. They also took some trips that were further away from home such as to Tennessee, Disney, Hawaii, and California. Since Bryan never really enjoyed traveling, Tammy also took a couple of cruises after he died, She enjoyed sports, too, as she was a huge U of M fan, especially for football, and she also was into NASCAR racing with Jeff Gordon being her favorite driver. Tammy was even able to attend a couple of races herself. She loved Longaberger baskets and had quite an extensive collection of them. She also toured the factory on one occasion. Tammy enjoyed relaxing with some television, and she loved her soaps, too. Among her other favorite shows were American Ninja Warrior, Project Runway, Duck Dynasty, Lost, and The Amazing Race. It was fairly common for Tammy to call her family and friends to talk about what happened the night before on her favorite shows. Everyone knew to keep things under wraps since because she worked nights, she usually watched her shows on her DVR the next day. Cooking shows were another favorite. Tammy did enjoy reading, too, and had a large collection of books from some of her favorite authors like Stephen King and John Grisham. In terms of music, Tammy liked classic rock, REO Speedwagon, and even a little Garth Brooks.
Described as outgoing, patient, affectionate, and generous, Tammy Johnston brought such joy to others. She was a woman of unwavering strength and courage that were truly inspiring, especially when faced with a long battle with cancer. Tammy was known for her amazing hugs, and no one ever left without getting one, either. She will never be forgotten.
Tammy Johnston, of Kalamazoo, died on September 2, 2015, at Rose Arbor Hospice, Kalamazoo. Tammy’s family includes her parents, Richard and Marilyn Majewski; 7 siblings: Therese (Bill) Holdeman, John (Susan) Majewski, Cathy Dobbs, Stephen Majewski, Matthew (Tanisha) Majewski, Elizabeth (Rick) Cornell and Janet Newcomb (Ken Lake); a brother and sister-in-law Todd and Amy Johnston, 10 nieces and nephews she called her “kids”: Andrew, Nathan, Brittany, Matthew Jr., Luke, Ryan, Ally, Collin, Connor and Aylsa; and by a special friend, James Hatfield. Tammy was preceded in death by her husband, Bryan Johnston; brother, Christopher Majewski and brother-in-law, Ervin Dobbs. Services will be held Saturday, September 12, 2015, 11:00 a.m. at the Second Christian Reformed Church (3015 Nichols Rd) with a visitation beginning at 10:00 a.m. A luncheon will follow the service in the church hall. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook before coming to the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice or to the West Michigan Cancer Center. Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900