In Remembrance Of Absent Friends (and Family)...

Found below...

Clara Ella Harpe Johnstone

Mom in Marine Corps Mom at USMCWR reunion after stroke
Born May 12, 1919
Passed away August 25, 2003

Clara was born in "new" Hopland (along what is now US 101) to Edna and Van Buren Harpe, both members of pioneering Hopland families. She was one of a family of ten children, attending elementary and high school in Hopland. She is survived by her husband, Harold Johnstone; her son, Lawrence Johnstone, stepchildren Harold Johnstone Jr. and Kathy Johnstone; sisters Marguerite Hetzel and Sarah Evelyn Howell, brothers Lawrence and Ernest Harpe, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Clara was a lifelong musician, both singing and playing piano, organ, accordion, trumpet and French horn. As a member of the Hopland High School band, she marched at the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. In 1943, she enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve and became a member of the USMCWR Band, which is the only all-female band ever fielded by the Marine Corps. She was discharged shortly after the end of World War II, but retained numerous lifelong friendships from her service. She also traveled with the Hormel Girls entertainment caravan for a time.

Clara worked professionally as a secretary for many years, being employed by the Upjon Company in San Francisco both before and after her World War II service. She also worked for the Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools in Ukiah, Arrow Chevrolet in Fort Bragg, and the Susanville Consolidated Sanitary District.

She met her husband Harold Johnstone at a square dance in Boonville in 1962. They married a year later, and remained avid square dancers for many years -- right up until her stroke in 2000 made it impossible for her to continue dancing. Clara was a member of both the Ukiah Promenaders and the Square Shooters square dance clubs in the 1960s, and remained a member of the Promenaders until her passing.

Since Harold worked for the State Division of Highways, Clara and Harold moved to several different places in Northern California: Fort Bragg, Dunsmuir, Susanville, and Quincy. When Harold retired in 1988, he and Clara returned to Mendocino County, and she lived her last fifteen years in Ukiah. She joined the American Legion as a member of Post 529 in Hopland, joining several of her brothers and sisters.

She will be long remembered by her relatives and friends for her sweet and gentle nature.

Harold Stanley Johnstone

January 28, 1923 — October 25, 2008

Dad's HS graduation photo
Graduation photo
Petaluma High School
Class of 1941
Dad and Hal 2005

Dad with my brother Hal in 2005

Harold Stanley Johnstone passed away on Saturday, October 25 2008 at his home in Ukiah, California. He was 85 years of age. He is survived by two sons, Harold S. Johnstone Jr. of Millsap, TX, and Lawrence Johnstone of Ukiah, CA; a daughter, Katherine England of Maui, HI; a sister, Jeanne Hays of San Clemente, CA; a grandson, Jason Johnstone of Petaluma, CA, and numerous in-laws, nieces and nephews.

Harold was born at home on January 28, 1923, to Henry and Mary Johnstone of Petaluma. He grew up involved with dairy farming, and was the FFA Grand Champion Showman at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma in 1939 before graduating with the Petaluma High School class of 1941. He remained involved with dairy and chicken ranching, both as a worker and as an owner, until he began working for the State Division of Highways (now CalTrans) in 1956. During that time, he met and married his first wife, Dorothy, and had two children, Harold Jr. (Hal) and Kathy. He and Dorothy later divorced.

While living in Fort Bragg, Harold met his second wife Clara Harpe at a square dance in Boonville. They married in 1963 and had a son, Lawrence, a year later. They remained married until Clara's death in 2003, and remained frequent square dancers. Their son continues this family tradition, as a regionally-recognized square dance caller.

Division of Highways logo CalTrans Logo During the course of 32 years of employment with the State Division of Highways / CalTrans, Harold held positions in a number of different locations around northern California. In 1967, he moved to Gibson in the Sacramento River canyon north of Redding, where he remained as maintenance foreman for ten years. In 1977, he was promoted to Assistant Superintendent and moved to Susanville. In 1987, he was promoted to Superintendent-I at Quincy, where he retired a year later.

Upon retirement, Harold moved to Ukiah, so that he and Clara could be close to her family. They remained there for the remainder of their lives. Harold remained active throughout his years, although problems with a replaced hip limited his activities in his last few years. He still found time to play pinochle with a group of friends three times a week, and in fact had done so the evening just before his passing.

Harold was a member of the Ukiah Promenaders square dance club, and was also a past master of the Vitruvius Masonic Lodge in Bloomfield, CA.

Graveside services will be held at 2pm on Thursday, October 30 at the Hopland Cemetery.

1939 Fair Headline Dad at Claude Sipe's retirement party

Harold S. Johnstone, Jr.

August 8, 1949 — April 21, 2009

Hal with Dad, 2005
Hal with our father, 2005

I  received word Friday, April 24, that my brother Hal passed away on that Tuesday after a year-long battle with thymus cancer. It happened very suddenly. He told me at the end of the previous month that he was starting a new series of chemotherapy treatments under the direction of a doctor in Houston, and he expected that to be ongoing for several months.  When I talked to his wife Julia, she said that he'd just finished the first treatment and was feeling very good, then suddenly took ill over the weekend and had to be rushed to the hospital.

This was the third death of family or friend in as many weeks. Two weeks prior, my uncle Lawrence Harpe (who my parents named me after) passed away. Then I received notice that Lyle Croisant, husband of former Ukiah Promenaders round dance cuer Phyllis Croisant, had also passed away the prior week. And then, Hal.

Hal's obituary, as it appeared in the Press Democrat (written by his wife, Julia):

Went to join his Lord and Savior on April 21, 2009. He passed away at Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife Julia by his side. He fought a courageous battle with cancer for over a year. He was born in Petaluma on August 8, 1949 and lived in Sonoma County and worked in telecommunications industry until his retirement from Verizon in 2001. After retirement he moved to Azle, Texas and in 2007 moved to Millsap, Texas where he lived with his wife at the time of his death. He is preceded in death by his father Harold S. Johnstone, Sr. Survivors include his wife, Julia Johnstone; a son, Jason Johnstone; his mother Dotty Schuster; a brother Lawrence Johnstone; and a sister Kathy Sullivan. Hal loved life, his animals, his family, NASCAR and hot rods. At the time of his death he was completing a pro street truck. Private services will be held. Arrangements by: WHITE'S FUNERAL HOME Weatherford, TX 817-596-4811

Young KathyKathy from her website

Katherine Ann Russell

October 16, 1951 — December 11, 2012

My sister Kathy (like Hal, a product of Dad's first marriage) was 13 years older than I. She lived with us from the time I was born until we moved to Gibson in 1967 when I was three; at that point, she went to live with her mother.

I didn't have much contact with her after that. We would occasionally go to visit her in Santa Rosa while she was living and working there. She and my father had a falling out when she was married the first time — my father was a state highway foreman and we had a big snowstorm at the time of her wedding, and he had to work. I have the impression that he didn't care much for the guy, but that didn't enter into it. Kathy never forgave him.

When I was in college, I got into a snit because Kathy never spelled my name correctly. Kathy stopped communicating with me because of that. In retrospect, it was a very small, foolish thing for me to get upset over, especially since it cost me the experience of having a sister through my adult years.

Over the course of the years, Kathy cut off contact with all of her family — Hal and her mother as well. In his later years, Dad used a public records search to find her (married again, in Hawaii) and attempted to contact her, but she refused his letters.

After Hal passed away in 2009, I found the website for the business she and her husband Rod had in Kauai ( and let her know of his death. She and Rod responded, and I wrote back in the hope that communication might be restored. There was no further response, and I resigned myself to letting her live her separate, private life.

In February of 2015 I was going through my web bookmarks list to see how many of them were no longer in service. One of them was a link to Kathy's biography on their website, and I found that Kathy's bio was no longer there. Curious, I did a Google search on her name...and found her obituary, dated December 11, 2012.

I'd hoped to make a trip to Hawaii someday, and further hoped to visit her and perhaps reopen a relationship with my sister. That's another thing that will never come to happen now.

Curiously, I had to find out about both Hal's and Kathy's deaths by obituary. I found Hal's only a few days after he died, but I didn't find out about Kathy until nearly two years after the fact. I'm sure that her husband (who I've never met) was simply following her wishes in not notifying her family. Still, the similarities are eerie: finding out by obituary, nearly the same age at death (Hal nearly 60, Kathy 61). Hal died of thymus cancer, which makes me wonder if cancer was involved in Kathy's death— and, if so, what does that portend for me?

I got the picture at above right from a copy of her website biography that was saved by the "wayback machine." The text of her saved biography follows:

Katherine Ann Russell was born October 16, 1951 in Petaluma, California.  She came from a non-metaphysical background except for her connection with animals and nature.  Looking back, she now realizes that many events in her young life were leading her to who she is today.  But, at that time she had no concept or understanding of what was happening to her.  At the age of four she started having out-of-body experiences.  At the age of nine she was thrown from a horse, saw the hooves coming down to crush her, felt the hands pull her to safety…yet nobody was there.  For this and more there were no answers, only the knowingness that she had to remain quiet—those around her would not understand.

Kathy’s spiritual journey began with a near-death experience in May of 1980.  At that time she was given information that changed her life, putting her on an entirely different path.  Since then she has become a Conscious to semi-Trance Channel, the Gatekeeper/Conductor of a Trance Channel Team, Intuitive Reiki Master Teacher, Crystal Light worker, and has brought through healing forms: Sananda’s Love, Soul Merge, ReJourney and a new form of Soul Retrieval.  Kathy’s compassionate work to facilitate healing and Spiritual Growth has touched people from all walks of life. 

Auntie Lynn in Marine Corps, 1940s Auntie Lynn at 95th Birthday, 2010

Sarah Evelyn Harpe Howell

December 22, 1915

March 16, 2012

Her given name was Sarah, but she usually went by Evelyn, and all of us kids knew her as Auntie Lynn.  She and Uncle Orrin never had children, but they were very close to my parents and she was like a second mother to me.

Like my mother, she was in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve in World War II.  Unlike my mother, she did mainly secretarial work.  She worked for the State Hospital in Talmage for many years, retiring when the hospital closed.  She and Uncle Orrin liked to go to Reno, and they would also drive long distances to play at Indian Bingo parlors such as Cache Creek.  This was before gambling was legalized on Indian reservations, and many of those parlors became casinos.  After Uncle Orrin died, she and Auntie Marge spent quite a bit of time out at the nearby Indian casino in Redwood Valley.

In 2010, she had to move from her home to a care facility in Ukiah, with her sister Marguerite.  Auntie Marge passed away shortly into 2011, and the loss of her companionship weighed heavily on Auntie Lynn.  In March of 2012 she came down with pneumonia, and passed away a week later.  I visited with her for almost an hour the day before she died, and she was unable to speak — it was clear that she was working hard just to breathe.  The next morning, I got the phone call saying that she had passed away.

Obituary (written by her brother Ernie)...

Sarah was born in Hopland on December 22,1915 to parents Van and Edna Harpe. She was raised in Hopland and graduated from Elementary School and from Hopland High School. Then she went to Business College in Santa Rosa.

She later enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and when she came home she started working in Ukiah.

After a few years she married the love of her life, Orrin Howell and then moved to Ukiah where they worked. She then went to work at the State Hospital in Talmage, from which she retired.

She leaves her brother, the last of ten children, Ernest Harpe and wife Eleanor Harpe and sisters-in-law Leatha Harpe, Myrl Harpe and Virginia Harpe. She also leaves numerous nieces and nephews.

At her request there will be no services.

Nate Bliss

Born November 28, 1940
Passed away November 6, 2002

It was with great shock and sorrow that I returned home that Wednesday night and found the news that my good friend Nate Bliss had passed away that afternoon. Nate was a great square dance caller, internationally known and respected. His voice can be heard on literally dozens of square dance singing call recordings, on many different labels.

He honored me by being best man at my wedding in 2001, and has been an inspiration to me in learning to call. More than that, he helped rekindle the desire to learn to fly that I've had since I was a child, and encouraged me with stories of his days in the Air Force and as a private pilot flying to calling dates and other places.

The thing I remember most about him is his sense of humor -- he could find something to chuckle at in nearly anything.

His passing will leave a great void in the square dance activity in this area, and he will be sorely missed.

NOTE:  The link will take you to a reproduction of Nate's profile page from his website,, before he passed away.

Lyle Croisant

Born June 9, 1918
Passed away April 8, 2009
Lyle and Phyllis

Phyllis Croisant

Born May 5, 1922
Passed away January 22, 2003

Phyllis was the round dance cuer for the Ukiah Promenaders for many years. I learned round dancing from her, and worked together with her on Thursday nights after I began calling for the Promenaders in 1994. She and her husband Lyle were the heart and soul of the Promenaders for most of that time, until her illness made it impossible for her to continue cueing. Her warmth and graciousness will be missed by us all.

Lyle was a good-natured jokester and was well-liked by everyone. After Phyllis passed away, Lyle moved back to Santa Rosa, and eventually to a retirement home in Manteca to be close to his family, so we in Ukiah didn't see him much any more. I found out about his passing on the same day as my Uncle Lawrence's funeral -- a double shock.

Milt Adams

Milt Adams

April 3, 1930 — January 7, 2012

Milt was the caller for the Ukiah Promenaders when I came to town in 1991, and had long been a popular caller around the North Bay area.  He was one of the first people to encourage me in learning to call, and to give me opportunities and guidance.  In 1995, he suffered a debilitating stroke and had to retire from calling, but he continued to live on the north end of Ukiah with his wife Teri and I would occasionally see them around town at restaurants or the Senior Center.  I saw and spoke to him for the last time in mid-2011 at his home, where I dropped in after making a computer service call on a neighbor two houses down.  In February of 2012, I received word that he had passed away the previous month, preceded by his wife Teri four months earlier.

Milt always reminded me of Ronald Reagan, both around the face and in his voice.  My best friend says that I remind him of Milt when I'm calling, which is a high compliment indeed.

Julie as a teen

Julie Ann Harris

June 15, 1966 — June 13, 2013

I met Julie in my last year at the University of California at Davis, at the Cal Aggie Square Dancers. She was a beautiful, vivacious girl, and I was immediately attracted to her. However, I was too slow in trying to ask her out -- it took me a week to work up the nerve, and by then she and my best friend at the time were already a couple. They were together on and off for thirteen years, during which time she got a doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific and began learning to call.

Unusually for the way that things most often work in my life, I got a second chance. In 1999, she started coming to our callers' association meetings, and we would do the Round of the Month together and talk. In 2000, we began seriously dating, and she moved to Ukiah in October of 2000. We were pretty much inseparable, and decided to get married. We were married privately at the end of 2000 because I was not comfortable living together before marriage, but the location Julie preferred for the ceremony wasn't available until September of 2001. We did not let most people know we were married until we were able to have the public ceremony that Julie wanted.

The wedding(s) was/were great; the marriage, not so much. She had problems, many of which I didn't really find out about until after we were married. One of these led to our being arrested not long after our public ceremony, and eventually led to the loss of her pharmacy license. A number of things happened that caused me to lose my trust in her, and I moved out in October of 2002. I hoped that that would serve as a wake-up call and that she'd start working on the issues that had caused the rift between us, but that did not happen. I filed for divorce in 2003, and it became final on V-J day of 2003.

I really had no contact with Julie after that. She did call me shortly after my father passed away, and we spoke on the phone for an hour. She told me that she had had kidney cancer and had had one kidney removed. The cancer eventually returned and spread to her back, her head and her lungs, and she had several surgeries and radiation treatments for these. She was living with her parents in Vacaville, apparently unable to care for herself.

In February of 2015 I received a phone call from her father about a financial matter. In the course of the conversation, he related that Julie had passed away in mid-2013, and her mother had followed her shortly. That was quite a shock — I knew she wasn't well, but I'd had no indication that she had died. (Phil said that he had never placed an obituary in the paper because he didn't know what kind of service he wanted to have for Julie and her mother.)

I don't necessarily miss the woman I divorced, although I regret her passing. I do miss the woman I fell in love with and married, very much.

My father never liked Julie. (Unfortunately, his opinion was eventually borne out.) We gave my mother a set of our wedding pictures, but Dad destroyed them after Mom passed away. Since Julie had posession of almost all of the pictures taken during our marriage, I had nothing with which to remember our public ceremony and marriage. Recently, however, my uncle Ernie and aunt Eleanor gave me some pictures which they had taken at our 2001 wedding. Here are a few that show Julie to best advantage: