Susan Aber Johnson died suddenly and unexpectedly of coronary artery disease on Friday, December 17, 2021 during a visit to Helena. She had been a vigorous 68-year-old until the night of her death. She was born August 11, 1953 in Bozeman, but she grew up in Polson, Montana. After graduation from Polson High School, she worked her way through the Montana State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She worked as a nurse on the psychiatric unit at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, and subsequently she reviewed hospital admissions for Vocational Resources Incorporated (VRI) managed care. In 2001 she returned to hospital nursing at the St. Patrick Hospital psychiatric unit, the neurology-neurosurgery unit, and finally the adult rehabilitation unit.
Susan sang in the chorus of the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church choir when she lived in Helena. In Missoula she served as Secretary-Treasurer for the String Orchestra of the Rockies. She had close friends in a Missoula book club. After retiring, she enjoyed playing her violin with small groups. Summers, she spent much of her time with her family at her Flathead Lake cottage on Rocky Point outside Polson. She travelled in all seven continents, including the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia Island; Papua New Guinea and Brisbane, Australia; Argentina and the Peruvian Amazon in South America; India and Sikkim in Asia; Tanzania in Africa; Utah, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska; and in Europe, Greece, Turkey, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Iceland (where in September 2021, she rode horses, swam in the lake formed by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and climbed an active volcano).
She married Stephen Johnson, a Missoula neurologist, in 2001. Her daughter, Kathryn Heffernan, also lives in Missoula. Susan’s older sister, Kathryn (Eric) Schlachter, a retired teacher, lives in Akron, Ohio. Her older brother, Donald Bonner, runs a school for children in Cambodia. Her parents, John Bonner of Bozeman and Florence Hungate Newgard, who moved from Bozeman to Polson, died years earlier. Susan’s dog, Matt, is pictured with her.
According to her wishes, Susan was cremated, and her ashes will be interred at the Lakeview Cemetery in Polson. A wake or memorial service is planned during good weather in the spring of 2022.