Wendy Anne Johnston, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died on Friday May 26, 2023 from injuries caused by an automobile accident. The accident occurred in Sebring, Florida and Wendy survived her injuries for just over four months while being treated in the Surgery Trauma ICU at Tampa General Hospital.
She was born to parents William and Susan Johnston at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan on August 5, 1969, their first born child. She was a healthy baby and her parents enjoyed watching her grow. As she got older, Wendy's parents noticed she wasn't walking like other toddlers her age. William and Susan sought out medical advice from their pediatrician, their concerns were minimized. What she lacked in physical ability, she made up for by reading books and becoming an avid reader of anything in print, often times reading the newspaper with her father. Finally, by the age of two, Wendy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and began treatment that would eventually help her learn to walk. She walked with a limp and did have limited mobility but found an interest in horseback riding when she became involved with The Cheff Center for the Handicapped (now known as The Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center) in Augusta, Michigan. Wendy attended Comstock Public Schools and graduated high school in 1987. She enjoyed studying history throughout her school years, encouraged by a few of her teachers in middle school and high school. Wendy was also an avid sports fan and was the manager of the women's varsity basketball team at Comstock High School. She went on to attend Western Michigan University and graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in History, minoring in Public History. Later, she also received a certificate in Medical Billing and Coding. Wendy also volunteered her time at Pathways Clubhouse tutoring adults to prepare them for GED testing, showing patience and perseverance even when her students doubted themselves. Wendy's favorite hobby was reading history books as well as Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes fiction, and reading fan fiction online. She also became the family genealogist, interviewing her grandparents and aunts for historical information. She will always be remembered as being a true Michigan professional and college sports fan, specifically the Detroit Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, the Kalamazoo Growlers and all WMU, MSU, and U of M sports. Family was the most important thing to Wendy, she valued family dinners, game nights, and holiday gatherings more than anything else.
Wendy is preceded in death by her grandparents Cecil and Doris Paddock and Homer and Marion Johnston as well as by her uncle Jim Paddock and her aunt Carol Paddock. Wendy leaves behind many family members who loved her very much. Her parents, William and Susan Johnston, her sister Melinda Kiplinger, her brother-in-law Dan Kiplinger, and her nephew (Wendy's pride and joy) Nolan Kiplinger. Wendy will also be remembered by her aunt Sharon Paddock, her uncle Jerry Paddock, her uncle Brian (Penny) Johnston, and cousins Bill (Marsha) and Tom (Selena) Paddock. Multiple other cousins as well as community members and friends of the Johnston family will remember Wendy fondly. Wendy will also be missed by the nurses and doctors of the Tampa General Hospital's Surgery Trauma ICU, her other family for the last four months of her life.
There will be no public memorial services for Wendy, her family and friends will honor her life with a private gathering in Susan's home town of Brighton, MI. In lieu of flowers or cards, please give the gift of blood by donating at your local Red Cross. The gift of blood gave Wendy the gift of life, even if it was too brief.