Norman "Newt" Johnston
Norman Walter Johnston, or Newt as he would fondly be called his entire life, was born to George and Alice Johnston on May 19, 1924 in Bloomington, Illinois. He was part of the first “baby boom” following the First World War or The Great War as that generation of Americans would call it. Soon after Newt’s birth, truly beloved siblings George (Bub) and Mary were born into George and Alice’s family.
Early on Newt developed a fondness for nature and the wonders of outdoors; especially with fishing. Other activities that brought Newt enjoyment included golf, gardening, travel, church, the achievements of the University of Texas.
Newt attended Bloomington Public Schools and graduated from Bloomington High School in 1942.
To better prepare for his role in the Second World War and lend his special skills in mathematics, Newt enrolled in the Army Air Corps’ Signal Corps program at the University of Michigan. From there Newt entered the Army Air Corps and was assigned to Wright Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio, Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, and on to California as he prepared for assignment to the Pacific Theater.
Returning to Bloomington after the war Newt enrolled at Illinois Wesleyan University. He then transferred to The University of Texas where he earned his degree in Electrical Engineering, graduating in 1950.
While at The University of Texas Newt met Laura Elena Cruz. As the best dreams come true, they fell in love. Newt and Laura chose a full mass to celebrate the sacrament of marriage in Laura’s home parish in Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico.
Newt and Laura settled first in Bloomington, Illinois where their first son, Norman, was born. Job opportunities with General Electric soon relocated them to the northeast where they spent time in New York and Massachusetts. There, Michael was born into the family.
In 1956 the Sun Belt called Newt’s talents and the family came to Oklahoma City. Together, Newt and Laura blended and enjoyed the professional, social, and family life in this growing community. Then, the blessing of Kay came to the Johnston Family and the family was complete.
Over the years and as Oklahoma City grew, Newt lent his engineering talents to the growth of the city. As you look to the Oklahoma City skyline, many of the buildings stand as a testament to the teams on which Newt played his engineering role.
The couple shepherded the Johnston children to a wide variety of activities. Most important of these activities was the required attendance of Sunday school and Church for this growing family. But always, Newt and Laura’s emphasis lay with hard study, dedicated effort, and honest accountability.
A proud moment in Newt’s life was the day son Norman attained the Boy Scout’s rank of Eagle. Parents frequently go un-noticed in this prestigious pursuit. Newt would play an active role in many a camp-out, tying of knots, sighting of constellations, and particularly the “Tour of Oklahoma” as Norman pursued his merit badge in bicycling.
Commemorating this and countless other acts of support and mentoring, Newt was honored with scouting’s “Order of the Arrow” by his fellow scoutmasters of the Last Frontier Council.
Health issues forced Newt into an early retirement. As an example to all, Newt’s faith and courage brought the entire family through the crisis and back to health.
Nursed back to health and re-affirmed of the joys of life, the couple took off for the destinations they yearned to visit. Their travels returned them to Mexico. One would need to move pretty quickly to catch up with the couple as adventures took them on ocean cruises, trips to Europe, Africa, Russia, South America, and Antarctica.
Newt and Laura welled with pride as each of their children found the love of very special spouses and took the vows of marriage. With the birth of their grandson, Grant, Newt and Laura joyfully assumed the role of grandparents. While Laura doted on him, Newt took to showing Grant the wonders of the world and providing the special loving only a loving grandfather could provide.
Additional health issues tested Newt’s fortitude but the same stoic strength that had seen him through his earlier bouts resurfaced and brought him to recovery.
Laura passed away in May 2015, after sixty-three years of marriage.
Newt is survived by his brother George (Bub) Johnston Jr., sister Mary Green, son Norman, daughter-in-law Donna, grandson Grant, daughter Kay Callahan, son Michael and his wife Cynthia. In addition survivors also include a host of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and nephews, and great-grand nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Newt’s name to the American Cancer Society, 6525 North Meridian Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK, 73116, (405) 843-9888.
The family will greet friends at the funeral home Friday March 17, 2017 from 6:00PM -8:00PM. Funeral services will be held 11:30AM Saturday, March 18, 2017 in the chapel of Vondel Smith Mortuary North with burial following in Resurrection Memorial Cemetery.