Barbara Fay Johnston

PORTLAND – Barbara Fay Johnston died peacefully on May 17, 2020, at the age of 101, secure in the love of her family, who she mothered with kindness, generosity, and moral courage. Her cheerful, wise spirit will be greatly missed. Barbara was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Aug. 29, 1918, the second of five children of William Fay and Margaret Keenan Fay. She grew up during the Depression with her four beloved siblings and spent summers at her aunt’s Southold, N.Y. farmhouse at the eastern end of Long Island. Barbara was proud of her Irish heritage. She was grateful to the city of New York for her free education at Hunter College (BA in fine art, 1941).In July 1943 she married William D. Johnston, a mechanical engineer and author. They raised three children in Oyster Bay, N.Y. while she made a career as an art teacher in the Syosset public schools. After retiring she served as Director of the Hutchins Art Gallery at Long Island University/CWPost Campus. She moved to Maine 15 years ago to be near family. Barbara was devoted to social justice and bettering the lives of the poor; active in her community, the Catholic church, and the Democratic Party; and a lifelong reader of The New York Times. She was a talented, prolific artist who drew inspiration from the seashore and salt marshes of Long Island. She continued to paint and draw (and sell her work) into her 100th year. Several times in her life she regained her footing when events swept her legs out from under her. In 1980, her 37-year marriage ended unexpectedly in divorce. Drawing on strength and resilience, Barbara forged an engaged, independent life that included art, spirituality, travel, and loved ones. Her quiet fortitude and zest sustained her. She was lucky to be good at happiness and blessed with an optimistic nature and an inquiring mind. She was a wellspring of support, love, and wisdom. She taught us to appreciate spirituality and beauty in art, music, and nature. She is survived by three children, Martha Young and husband Jay Young of Falmouth, Kevin Johnston and wife Joy McCorriston of Columbus, Ohio and Matthew Johnston and wife Celia Fitzgerald Johnston of Devon, Pa.; as well as five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a legacy of exemplary dedication to equality, justice, family, and prayer. We loved her dearly. Her family thanks 75 State Street in Portland, where Barbara lived since 2008, and VNA Hospice. They cared for Barbara with gentleness and compassion. A Memorial Mass in celebration of her life will be held when gatherings are safe for all. Arrangements are under the direction of the Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home of Portland. To view Barbara’s memorial page or to share an online condolence, please visit For those wishing to honor her memory, donations may be made to your localfood bank.

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