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Obituaries > JOHNSTON, WILLIAM J.

MEREDOSIA, Ill. — William “Jack” Johnston, 92, of Meredosia, died Thursday, March 1, 2012 in his home surrounded by family and friends

Jack was born on April 10, 1919, in New Canton, a son of Elden and Lula Campbell Johnston. He was the second oldest of nine children. He attended grade school in New Canton and later graduated from New Canton High School. He spent a country childhood in Pike County, working hard and growing up with the Mississippi River for a big back yard

He was a veteran of World War II and served with the U.S. Marine Corps Raiders in the Pacific Theater, achieving a battlefield promotion to the rank of sergeant. After the war, he returned to Peoria, his adopted “hometown,” where he continued a 40-year career with Caterpillar Tractor Company. He also attended business college in Illinois

He married Helen Kelso of Pleasant Hill on Aug. 16, 1946, in Peoria. Jack and Helen became inseparable partners, sharing children, many life experiences and adventures. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with family and friends in 2006

Survivors include, a son Richard Johnston of Soldotna, Alaska, daughter- in-law Pamela McDermott, and son and daughter-in-law Robb and Lori Rose, of Peoria. He is also survived by his treasured and much loved grandchildren, Kahlia and Hydn McDermott-Johnston of Alaska, Clayton McDermott of Las Vegas, and Kyle, Cody, and Katie Rose of Peoria; sisters Emma Rae (Norman) Gerecke, Doris Wallace, and Helen Slater; and brothers Elden “Junior” (Esther) and Francis (Annette) Johnston; sisters and brothers-in-law; many nephews, nieces, cousins, and much loved friends

He was preceded in death by his wife Helen; daughter, Cheryl Lynn; mother and father, Elden and Lula; and siblings, Joe (surviving wife Annabelle), Paul, and Roy

He is also eternally grateful to his sister and brother-in-law, Emma Rae and Norman Gerecke, who cared for him for many years after his wife’s passing; and his special caregivers Keyra, Jean, Sandy, Cindy, and Jackie, who cared for him as if he were family

Jack was a hardworking, kind and humble man. His fellow soldiers described him as a courageous and loyal soldier. Fellow workers knew him as a skilled and tireless worker who always put the welfare of others ahead of himself. Jack was a dedicated family man and loyal husband. To family, friends, and strangers he was a quiet strength that provided support, comfort and safe harbor. In many ways he was a real-world example of the “Samaritan” who always took the time to help others, expecting nothing in return

He was known to go out of his way to pass by a street soul with an empty tin more than once in a single outing to offer a small bit of aid or sit for days on end with an ailing friend in the hospital. There are many travelers who never knew Jack by name, but can recall a quiet and busy man and his chatty wife with Illinois license plates stopping to offer aid along a lonely stretch of highway. Jack offered assistance to many persons in need during his life when few others would. This was his way…a man of few words, but unambiguously good deeds. It has been said that a good person is someone who does the right thing when no one is looking. This phrase could have been coined for Jack Johnston

He was a member of Glen Oak Christian Church for more than 50 years and an active member of the Marine Raider Association. Jack Johnston loved working with his hands, accumulating and using tools, watching baseball games, travel, camping, boating, fishing, vacations and children. Quietly rocking a grandchild was one of his true joys. He had a fulfilling retirement, traveling to many states, including several trips to Alaska

While living to an older age was tough since suffering a stroke in 1997, he appreciated the changing seasons, hearing of loved ones adventures, experiencing grandchildren growing to teenagers and young adults and seeing his beloved St. Louis Cardinals win two World Series

A service to celebrate the life of Jack Johnston will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Community Church of Christ in New Canton, with visitation 1-2 p.m. prior to the service. Burial will follow at Shearer Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Meredosia Food Pantry, P.O. Box 41, Meredosia, Illinois 62665. Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Meredosia is in charge of arrangements