Gladys Johnstone, former Senior Citizen of the Year and current holder of Provincetown’s Boston Post Cane, died on Nov. 1, 2022 at Seashore Point. She was 100.
Born on March 18, 1922 in New York City to Henry and Mae (Branigan) Gloyer, Gladys grew up during the Depression and attended the Jenny Clarkson Boarding School for Girls in White Plains. After graduation, she worked behind the counter at Genung’s Department Store, where she met David Johnstone, who was working as a soda jerk. They enjoyed going to the Glen Island Casino to listen to the big bands of the era, Artie Shaw’s being their favorite. They married in 1939 and settled in the Bronx. Gladys’s aunt Margaret helped the couple buy a house in White Plains a few years later.
David worked for Union Carbide while Gladys mostly stayed home to raise their five children, later working to help support the family. Gladys and David divorced in 1971.
She was a telephone operator, hospital worker, and dining room manager and worked for an artist who made Christmas ornaments. Memorably, she was the maître d’ at the Forest House Hotel in Lake Mahopac, N.Y. Her son, Doug, said he enjoyed seeing her get “all dolled up.”
After years of motherhood and grandmotherhood, Gladys felt the need for change. Doug had bought a house in Provincetown in 1993, and Gladys decided to move in, even though she had never been to Cape Cod.
The family was unsure how she would fare alone at the tip of the Cape, but she fell in love with the town and felt a freedom and peace she attributed to the beauty of the surroundings and, Doug said, “all the positive ions bouncing off the water.”
Gladys immersed herself in Provincetown’s vibrant senior community. Elder services placed her in a range of jobs, and she volunteered at the Soup Kitchen, Ruthie’s Boutique, and the Outer Cape Health thrift store.
COA Director Diane Corbo took Gladys under her wing, helping her build a social network. She joined the council on aging board and friends organization. Gladys later founded the Friends of Maushope, a nonprofit committed to improving the quality of life for residents of the senior housing complex.
Gladys also worked as WOMR’s receptionist and as a cook for the council on aging, retiring in her late 80s. In 1997, she was named Provincetown’s Senior of the Year.
Gladys was an animal lover, avid gardener, and voracious reader; she loved puzzles, did the Sunday New York Times crossword in ink, and still played a competitive game of Scrabble in her last year. She knitted and was a wonderful quilter. A panel she quilted of town halls is currently displayed at the council on aging.
Gladys is survived by her daughters Barbara Bratone and husband Arthur of City Island, N.Y. and Laurie Brown and husband David of Savannah, Ga.; by her son Douglas Johnstone and husband Edward Terrill of Provincetown; and by nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her daughters Pamela Bright in 2015 and Judith Urban in 2020.
A celebration of her life will be held at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may go to the Carrie A. Seaman Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 1374, Provincetown 02657 or to a charity of one’s choice.