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Helyn Johnston


Helyn M. Johnston (nee Rossback), age 88 of Wayne, died on Monday, September 25, 2017. She had lived in the Packanack Lake section of Wayne since 1955.

Helyn was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, and was a member of the cheerleading squad. It was there that she met fellow student, E. Ray Johnston, who was a standout on the OU Track and Field team. The two of them fell in love and were married on August 13, 1949. Ray’s employment eventually brought them to New Jersey where they found the newly-developing community of Packanack Lake in Wayne. They purchased a vacant lot and built their first home there.

Helyn loved the Packanack community so much that she brought countless friends and acquaintances to the lake and soon became the best salesperson that the local builder could have ever asked for! Helyn simply had a charisma that endeared her to many and she made friends everywhere. She was on a first-name basis with the likes of Arnold Palmer and Nancy Lopez, having met both during local golf tournaments. She collected autographs from many, including Joe DiMaggio and even chased former Vice President Dan Quayle on a golf course to get his autograph – which didn’t go over too well with the Secret Service detail that was protecting him. Helyn also earned herself a spot as a contestant on “The Price is Right” where she not only met Bob Barker, but went on to win the grand prize which included a much needed new washing machine and dryer! Helyn surely had many great stories to tell and and plenty of good fun during her eighty-eight years.

Helyn was the consummate wife and mother, taking her family responsibility quite seriously. She was devoted to her husband and did everything she could for her children. She was keenly active in her children’s lives and always stood up for them. Her children recall how she went to bat for them on one particular occasion during high school, and successfully caused the township to provide busing to school after it had initially been denied. She also actively engaged her family at the Packanack Community Church. Her Christian faith unquestionably provided the strong foundation of her moral compass. She held firm to her convictions, loved America and was perhaps the most ardent fan of Mickey Mouse and his kingdoms on both the east and west coasts – her happiest places on earth.

Helyn is survived by her two children; Scott R. Johnston (and his wife Elyse) of Wayne, New Jersey, Leslie Durgin (and her husband Paul) of Milton, Massachusetts, and her seven grandchildren: Kiersten, Scott, Spencer and Shaffer Johnston, all of Wayne, New Jersey, and Lindsay Rae Durgin of South Boston, Massachusetts, Harrison Durgin of New York, New York, and Coleman Durgin of Boston, Massachusetts, as well as many dear friends and extended family. She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Ray, in 1992.

Friends may visit with the family at the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, 567 Ratzer Road, Wayne, on Monday, October 2, 2017 from 9:30-11:30 AM. A funeral service will be held at 11:30 AM, at the funeral home immediately following the visiting hours. Burial will follow at the First Reformed Church Cemetery in Pompton Plains.

Donations in Helyn’s memory would be greatly appreciated to the Packanack Community Church, 120 Lake Drive East, Wayne, NJ 07470.

Guest Book


Dear Leslie & Family, We send our most sincere condolences on the passing of your lovely Mom. Always a smile and so kind to us all during the fantastic years at WVHS and beyond. Truly a special person. Love, Warren & Mary Ellen.

Warren Cook


To say that Mrs Johnston meant a lot to me would be a massive understatement. I spent many hours in the Johnston household on Powderhorn drive. Much laughter, much respect, much joy during those years while in hignschool and beyond. Helyn attended my college acting:singing days and was an ardent supporter of anything I did. My thoughts are with Leslie in honoring this wonderful woman.

Bill Cerullo


Dear Leslie, Scott and extended family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you as we extend and express our deepest condolences at this sad time. Helen had a long and happy life, so we rejoice knowing she is truly in a wonderful place.

William & Jeanne Maass


Dear Leslie and Scott, My deepest condolences to both of you and your familes. So sorry to hear the sad news of a wonderful woman. Best regards, Nancy

Nancy Tonnesen Belline

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