Skip to content


1954-Nov-13 – 2016-Jun-15

Born in Victoria BC to Gordon and Janet (née Ainey) JOHNSTON, Bill was the third of six children.

He married Claudia DONATO (née Wahl) in 1985 and they had two children, Morgan and Grayson. Following their divorce and Claudia’s untimely death from cancer, Bill raised his children as a single father. In 2008, he met Mike DIETRICH and they became inseparable, marrying in 2014.

Bill developed a love for live theatre at a young age and pursued this avocation passionately his entre life. Eventually he became partners in the “Play with Your Food” dinner theatre in Victoria. He was also an accomplished writer of musical theatre plays.

At the time of Bill’s passing he was the President and Artistic Director of Ladysmith Little Theatre and an honorary life member of the Four Seasons Musical Theatre Society.

In his final months he was deeply involved in two productions in which he acted, directed, and choreographed (“Dorothy Gets Scrooged” and “The Musical of Musicals, the Musical”).

Bill worked in Campus Security at the University of Victoria for over 30 years and following his retirement, moved to Ladysmith BC. In 2015, Bill received an appointment as a Marriage Commissioner, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

In Sept 2012, Bill was diagnosed with Uveal Melanoma and although he accepted all available treatments, the disease spread and eventually claimed him suddenly and unexpectedly. He fought the beast with courage, dignity and grace, never once allowing the diagnosis to overshadow his positive and cheery outlook.

Bill is predeceased by his mother Janet and his former wife Claudia. He is survived by his husband Mike; daughter Morgan (Phil); grandchildren Kesa, Damien, and Desmond; son Grayson and step-sons Kevin, Jeffrey and Matthew. He is also survived by siblings: John; Gordon Jr; Cathy (Don); Dennis (Lisa); and Janet (Anthony); many aunts, uncles, cousins (especially Joy (John)); nieces (especially Keli (Jose)) and Rebecca (Tyler)); nephews; and his father Gordon Sr.

We would like to thank Dr Katherine PATON (Vancouver), Dr Vanessa BERNSTEIN (Victoria), and Dr Graham BROCKLEY (Ladysmith) for their forthright care, honest advice and aggressive treatment which allowed Bill to prolong his life with zest and determination and to Dr Valorie MASUDA (Duncan) for her gentle and compassionate palliative care.

Bill has many friends in the theatre, at UVic, Camosun, and in the farm… community. We thank every one who touched his life along the way but in particular, we are grateful to Bruce MASON and Susan CARTHY for their love and support of Bill.

It was Bill’s wish to be cremated. A Celebration of Life will be held at Ladysmith Little Theatre, 4985 Christie Road, Ladysmith BC V9G 1J3 at 2 pm on Sunday, July 10, 2016. In lieu of cards and flowers, donations may be made to the Ladysmith Little Theatre.

Condolences may be offered at

Secondary Title

Your condolences will be approved within one business day. You will need a valid Facebook account. Please email us if you have any questions.

Pop-up banner image