Willis Leo Johnston was born August 25, 1926, at Rapid City, South Dakota, to Walter and Clara (Vosberg) Johnston. He moved to Mitchell with his family in 1930, where he attended grade school and high school. He served in the US Navy during World War II from 1943 until 1946. On August 30, 1947, he married LaDema Belle Vearrier. He graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell in 1950. He worked for the Milwaukee Railroad in Mitchell and Chicago, IL. He moved back to Mitchell in 1953, then moved to Pukwana in 1954, where he began teaching and coaching. He moved to Artesian in 1957, where he taught and coached until 1963, then worked fulltime for the Milwaukee Railroad. He served as mayor of Artesian for eight years. From1988 until 2003 he drove school bus for Artesian and also substitute taught. He had been a resident of Mitchell since 2005. He was a member of the First Lutheran Church in Artesian,
He is survived by two sons, Robert “Rocky” Johnston and wife, Kim of Wakonda, SD, Stacey Johnston and his fiancé, Shawna, of Fargo, ND; six daughters: Paula Pence of Mitchell, Georgia Goudy of Mitchell, Debbi Carter and husband, Byron of Rapid City, Jackie Olson and husband, Dale of Forestburg, Jerilyn Button and husband, Lyle of Mitchell, Billie Arredondo and husband, Eddie of Cypress, TX; thirty-two grandchildren and seventeen great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, LaDema, two brothers, Robert and Tom, a sister, Betty Lyle, an infant son, Richard, one grand daughter, Kassia Pence and his parents.