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Careen Louise Simpson Johnston

12/29/1945 - 09/04/2021
Service Date: 09/11/2021
Service Time: 11:00 AM
Service Location: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1150 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert, AZ
Interment: Green Acres Cemetery

Careen Louise Simpson Johnston, 75, loving wife, mother, and grandmother, passed away peacefully on September 4, 2021, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Careen lived a full life that was devoted to her family and her faith.

Born in San Diego, California on December 29, 1945, the oldest child of Conrad Dahle Simpson and Barbara “Bobbie” Louise Rice Simpson, she spent her early years in Santa Clara, CA, where she excelled in academics, foreign language, and music. She would go on to become the valedictorian of her high school and earn a scholarship to Brigham Young University, from which she graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.

She met Jay Orvel Johnston while he was attending Stanford University and she was working as an elementary school teacher. They married on June 14, 1969, in the Oakland California temple and lived in Santa Clara, CA as they expanded their family to include five children. In 1981, Jay and Careen moved to Gilbert, AZ where they have lived for 40 years.

Careen was a devoted mother to her kids and an exemplary teacher to hundreds of children in the Gilbert Public Schools. She continued her career in education by teaching elementary strings and then became a second-grade teacher at Patterson Elementary. She also served as an assistant principal and a school librarian.

A faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Careen spent countless hours serving others in her many callings, including Relief Society President, Scout Leader, and ward and temple organist.

Careen loved to travel with her husband Jay, especially to San Diego and to the ocean. She loved to read and to go out to restaurants. However, her greatest passion was spending time with her grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by so many of her family and friends who loved her.

She is survived by husband Jay Johnston; children, David (Sherry) Johnston of Mesa, AZ, Steven (Amber) Johnston of Highlands Ranch, CO, Brian (Connie) Johnston of Queen Creek, AZ, Karen (Karl) Johnson of Stafford, VA, and Lisa (Steve) Nicholes of Meridian, ID. She is also survived by her sister Dennae (Don) Adams, and brothers Dairen and Branden (Tammy) Simpson.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 1150 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert, AZ, 85234, with a visitation from 10:00-10:45 am. There will be a graveside service at Green Acres Cemetery, 401 N Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ, 85257 at 1:15 pm following the funeral. Flowers can be sent to Bunker Family Funeral Home, 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ, 85201.



  • Harold (Hal) Gaisford

    Kay and I watched the courtship of Careen and Jay–attending opera, symphony, and church together. When we moved to Gilbert in 1996 we could see the fruits of Careen’s artistic and cultural influence on her family, church, school and city. We are all better for having known her. May God Bless and Comfort Jay, their children, grandchildren and extended family.

  • Sheila Rogers Uggetti

    I am so saddened to hear this news. Careen will always be one of my favorite parents. I loved her and all of your family. It was a privilege for me to be your teacher. What a wonderful family and a wonderful mother you had! Sending all of you my love!

  • Such a beautiful lady! She will be missed. She was always concerned about others and truly enjoyed getting to know others. She had such a calming demeanor and a cheerful smile and attitude. Love her!

  • Careen was such an example to me of service. I loved listening to her play the organ at Church—her musical ability was incredible. I was so impressed by her organizational skills in all she did. I will miss her and the light she was to all who knew and loved her.

  • This was heartbreaking news for me to hear the news about Careen. She was such a special lady and I loved getting to know her when Karen and Lisa were in my class. She was loved and will be missed by so many. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers!

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