Recognized for her many contributions to Cowley College and her service
to the community, Mildred (Milly) Johnston was named the recipient
of the Outstanding Tiger Alumnus Award for 2010.
Johnston moved to Arkansas City from Clearwater in 1944. She went on to graduate
from Ark City High School in 1945 and Ark City Junior College in 1947.
Back when Johnston attended ACJC, the college was housed in the basement of Arkansas
City High School. During that time, Johnston was among the individuals that handed
out flyers with information talking about getting the college moved out of the
basement of the high school. A few years later that would become a reality when
the school moved to its current location of 125 South Second St. in Arkansas
Johnston went on to do substitute teaching for USD 470 for more than 10 years
thanks to the education she received at ACJC.
“When I think of being listed as an Outstanding Alumnus it is kind of overwhelming,” Johnston
She married Hubert Johnston in 1947. They had three children: Nan Schaper, Olathe;
Kay Thomas, Edmond, OK; and Gevan Johnston, who is deceased. Hubert passed away
All three of her children received degrees from Cowley College and were active
at the school. Hubert also took classes at the college in 1959.
“My husband (Hubert) and I have always supported the college, it meant
a lot for our kids to go here,” Johnston said.
Mildred and Hubert received the Cowley County Community College Tiger Booster
Club Award in 2000. The couple attended numerous Cowley College baseball and
softball games, and even went to Grand Junction, Colo. on two different occasions
to cheer on the Tiger baseball team at the JUCO World Series.
Now, Johnston can be seen at each of the Tigers’ home basketball games.
Thanks to a generous donation to the college’s Endowment Association, the
Hubert and Mildred Johnston Endowed Fund was started in February 2009.
“I am so proud of the school,” Johnston said.
Johnston began volunteering at Medicalodge East where her mother, Marie Freese,
was a resident. Since then she has volunteered at numerous organizations.
“I am so glad I started doing volunteer work, I am happy to help out,” Johnston
Johnston has been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for 29 years. During
that time, she has been a certified Reach to Recovery volunteer and touched the
lives of many newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. She also assisted with
the Relay for Life event for 10 years.
She has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary for 66 years; the Ark
City Tennis Association for 35 years, serving several years as treasurer; the
SCKRMC Auxiliary for 23 years, serving as gift shop manager; and as a volunteer
at Medicalodge East for 23 years.
She has previously been a volunteer for the American Red Cross, making lap robes
and assisting with the blood drives. She also served as a volunteer answering
phones for Safe Homes for five years and at the Ark City Senior Center for six
years. She also volunteers at the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield, furnishing
cookies and helping veterans during the Christmas season.
She has been a member of the First United Methodist Church in Arkansas City since
1944, where she is a member of the seekers class and UMW, and serves on the services
and mission groups. She also volunteers her time at the Saint Paul Methodist
Church in Arkansas City with their Share Meal that is served once a week and
is also a member of the Cowley College Golden Tigers.
Shannon Massey, Cowley College’s Executive Director of Alumni and Development,
was happy to present Johnston with this year’s Outstanding Tiger Alumnus
“Milly is such a kind, generous woman,” Massey said. “She is
very giving of her time for many organizations in Ark City. Milly and Hubert
have supported Cowley College with many financial gifts over the years and her
gift last year of $25,000 to the Endowment Association and $2,000 to the Tiger
Hall of Fame Fund was amazing and very much appreciated. She’s a great
friend to Cowley College and very much deserves this award.”
Her three children, Nan Schaper, Kay Thomas, and Gevan Johnston were all very
active at Cowley. Nan attended Cowley from 1970-1972 and served as a work-study
in the admissions office. She also was the Student Government president and named
Basketball Queen in 1972. She played tennis at Cowley and was the runner-up for
Queen Alalah in 1971.
Kay attended Cowley from 1972-1974 and served as a work-study in the school’s
Agri-Business Office. She played tennis at Cowley and was one of the leaders
on the team. She was also a cheerleader and was named Queen Alalah and the school’s
Basketball Queen in 1973.
Both Nan and Kay went on to earn bachelor degrees from Oklahoma State University.
Gevan attended Cowley during the 1977-78 academic year and played tennis at the
school. After going into the military, he returned to Cowley and earned a degree
in Non-Destructive Testing and Air Frame and Powerplant in 1995. Sadly, Gevan
passed away in 2006.
Gevan’s daughter, and Johnston’s granddaughter, Shirley Leftwich,
also attended Cowley and graduated from the school in 2007. At Cowley, she was
active in the Theatre Department and was a work-study in the business office.
In July 2009 Johnston was named the recipient of the Community Cornerstone
Award, which recognizes the time and effort of volunteers dedicated to serving
people and enhancing the quality of life in Cowley County.
Although the college has changed since she was a student, Johnston has enjoyed
watching the school grow.
“I am happy to hear of all the great things that are going on at the college,” Johnston
said. “All of the graduates of the college really seem to enjoy their time
at the school.”