Robert Johnston and Colene Krammes, both residents of Canton, Ohio, were introduced at a friend’s wedding and began a traditional courtship with Sunday dinners with family and writing love letters to each other in long-hand. After marrying in 1944, they had a bright future ahead and so many dreams.
After being employed as purchasing agent for Wheeling Machine Products Company, Bob and Colene left Canton and moved to Dimmydale, West Virginia. Eventually that led to thirty–five years of employment for Bob. Colene initially worked for the Ohio Gas Company giving cooking demonstrations on the newest models of stoves, but later worked as a Home Economics and Science teacher aligning her college degree.
This newly married couple was no different than most others. Their love for each other was deep and their dreams of married life portrayed images of having their own children and finding a family centered church to call home. But life introduced a spin on their plans and no children were born at a time when medical intervention for conception issues was not an option. A single phone call changed the course of their devastating situation and maneuvered hope back into their dream. The Florence Crittenton Home answered Bob and Colene’s prayers of wanting a family and needing children to love.
In 1947, a precious little girl, Gayle, was adopted from the Crittenton Home. As they held this tiny bundle, they marveled at her perfect little rose bud mouth and tiny fingers. Loving this beautiful little girl as their own was easy for Bob and Colene. The warmth generated by the love in their home was endless, and the natural thing to do was give Gayle a brother or sister. So, in 1949, brother Rob was brought home to meet his older sister who marveled at his tiny little hands!
The house in Dimmydale seemed to be shrinking as the children grew larger and became more active. They decided to find a big, old house in the country that would provide more room for their children and welcome friends and family from afar. A century house beckoned this family with its huge front porch and sprawling lawn. The Johnstons was inscribed on the mailbox for the next fifty years.
Loving these children was so natural for these two amazing Christian people that in 1951, a third child was adopted. This little baby was brother, Bruce. In 1954, plans were made to adopt one more child to complete the family! But one snowy evening, the social worker called the Johnston house to explain that she had a bit of a problem. Bob answered the phone and without discussing anything with Colene, a smile creased his face as he told the social worker that “her problem” was not a problem at all. So, at dinner, without explaining the reason to Colene, he said they had to bundle up the children and go to Sears to buy another crib. Being the prudent and practical person Colene was, she answered, “Honey, that crib is just fine.” Bob said, “Yes, for one baby!” He gently asked her, “Honey, do you have enough love in your heart for two babies? There are twins!” What seemed like only a nanosecond later, Colene tearfully answered, “How wonderful! And yes, I will have the children ready to go shortly!” The twins, a boy, Chris and a girl, Tina were brought home in December of 1954 to complete their family… and a special family it still is with siblings close at heart because of having been gifted the profound love and compassion Bob and Colene lived every day.
This is not just a story of how two gracious and incredibly compassionate people needed children to love; it is a story of how the Florence Crittenton Home has reached out across the different eras to serve their community and enable others to live their dreams.
Submitted by the Johnston children, 2016