Robert "Bob" Johnston of New Salem passed away in his sleep at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton in the early morning of Tuesday January 23, his wife Paula at his side. He is survived by his wife, Paula (Daniels) Johnston of New Salem; his son, Kyle Johnston of Pownal, Maine; his sister, Janis Santos of Ludlow, and her children Mark Santos of Ludlow and his wife Alice, Jeff Santos of Ludlow and his wife Mary, and Kim Santos of Greensboro, North Carolina; and his two step-daughters and their children: Stacey Read of Amherst and her children Christopher, Cassidi, and Matthew, and Lindsay Read of Amherst and her children Lola and Read. He was predeceased by his brother Richard.
Born in 1947, Robbie, as he was called by his sister Janis, was the youngest child of Grace Premo and Norman Johnston, and spent his youth in a house built by his father on Haviland Pond in Ludlow. Together, he and Janis would hunt bullfrogs, catch fish, and swim from their beach to the island in the middle of the pond. They spent summers on the Maine coast. He loved sports and would play hockey, baseball, and football with his friends. He would go on to play football for Ludlow High School. His first car was a 1965 Mustang.
He was drafted into the Army in 1967 and served in Vietnam with the Army Signal Corps before being stationed in Germany. He was honorably discharged in 1970, having achieved the rank of Sergeant. From his time in the Army, he learned teamwork, discipline, and how to fall asleep quickly, eat quickly, and appreciate Bavarian lager.
Upon leaving the Army, Bob attended Westfield State College. After graduating with a degree in biology, he began a long career in education, working first for Head Start in Chicopee and then Job Corps at Westover Air Reserve Base, where he would found and direct Prime Time, an evening program to help young mothers earn their G.E.D. He would go on to teach biology at West Springfield High School and later AP biology at his alma mater, Ludlow High School. While teaching at Ludlow High School, he was the faculty advisor to Students Against Destructive Decisions, and was nominated for and received the 2011 Harvard Club Excellence in Teaching Award. He was an Assistant Coach for his son's team with the Ludlow Hockey Association.
In 2011, Bob retired with his wife Paula to a peaceful country home in New Salem.
Bob was a warm, kind, quiet man, a devoted husband, a caring father, grandfather, and brother, and a friend to many. He loved animals and nature and enjoyed watching the Yankees, Giants, and Bruins, cooking, tending to the wood stove, and taking walks around the Quabbin. In his retirement, he and Paula traveled up and down the east coast, from Tampa to Ogunquit. His father, Norman, had immigrated to Ludlow from Montrose, Scotland, and Bob felt connected to and proud of his Scottish ancestry: on special occasions, including his wedding, he would array himself in kilt, sporran, and sgian-dubh, and he was known to be an occasional connoisseur of a wee glass of the nation's eponymous libation. He passed these traditions on to his son.
He will be missed by all who knew him.
Calling hours will be held on Wednesday January 31 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Ludlow Funeral Home, 432 East Street, Ludlow. A private burial service at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Agawam will follow at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Robert J. Johnston Memorial Scholarship Fund at LUSO Credit Union, 599 East Street, Ludlow, MA 01056.
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432 East St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
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