Mary Alice Boyce Johnston

SAN RAMON, Calif. – Mary Alice Boyce Johnston died Sunday, March 2, 2014, at home in San Ramon. She was 92.

Born the youngest child of Dr. George Henry Boyce and Esther Stavrum Boyce, Mary Alice was raised in Iron Mountain. After graduating from High School she attended the University of Miami, Ohio, and completed her physical therapy degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Upon graduation she served as a physical therapist in the U.S. Army in Texas and Santa Fe, N.M. during World War II. Her experiences in New Mexico were seminal to her career as a photographer.

She met and married Richard Johnston while studying at Columbia University in NYC, where she earned a master of arts in corrective education with a minor in French.

Mary and Richard travelled to France aboard a cargo ship for a deferred honeymoon in 1950. In Paris, Mary studied at the Sorbonne University and worked as a freelance photojournalist, accumulating a portfolio chronicling daily Parisian life in the 1950s that would later be the subject of exhibits and a recently published book: “Paris: Photographs Across Time From An Island in Paris.” (

She and Richard lived in France for eight years, followed by five years in England, returning to the U.S. in 1963. They subsequently lived in: Storrs, Conn.; Albany, N.Y.; Springfield, Ill.; Crestone and Boulder, Colo.; and San Ramon. Mary and family were frequent summer visitors to Iron Mountain and the family cottage in Spread Eagle, Wis.

In addition to photography, Mary worked as a French teacher, translator and editor. Throughout her life she was active in the Democratic Party and a tireless advocate for peace, and civil and human rights.

Mary is survived by her husband of 65 years, Richard Johnston of San Ramon; son, Don and his wife Erika of Pleasanton, Calif.; daughters, Linda Johnston of Chicago and Kay Johnston of Surrey in the United Kingdom; brother, George Boyce and his wife Gloria of Kingsford; sister, Margaret Ryder of San Rafael; granddaughter, Katia Johnston of Pleasanton; grandson, Stephane Johnston and wife Emilie of Los Angeles; and many admiring nieces, nephews and friends whose lives she touched.

In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to Special Olympics INC., 133 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Cremation was private. A celebration of Mary’s life will be held in April. For additional information, contact