Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Bye Be

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be had a full life...he was improving and we were looking at assisted living facilities when he took a turn for the worse in rehab - a combination of being released from the hospital too early and being given the wrong drug at the rehab facility - not sure if this happened due to the doctor error or at the rehab but by the time we got him back to the ER it was too late and he died the next day...we are on the way home - about 10 hrs away now -- planning the service and all it entails and driving back out in 2 weeks' time -- now I know why the bereaved are so shell-shocked -- when do you get time to decompress and grieve?? Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers..p.s. we learned the doctor wanted to leave town for 'march madness' and made the wrong judgment call -- and had no one on call in his practice! Amazing. Just amazing...this will run in both Santa Fe papers and the Baltimore Sun...




James Houston Eccleston Johnston, died age 90 on Friday, March 18, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nick-named “Be” (family lore: as a child he couldn’t pronounce ‘me’ and would say, “Give it to Be”), Be was born into a historically prominent Maryland family at their summer home ‘Burnside,’ where his grandfather started a 500-acre dairy farm in the Green Spring Valley, in Stevenson, MD (formerly Eccleston, MD), outside of Baltimore. He was a member of the Society of Cincinnati, whose members are direct descendants of officers of the American Revolution.

Be’s formative years were spent on Burnside with five siblings, where adhering to the propriety and social mores of the upper echelon did not prevent him from youthful adventures and high-jinks, such as spending summers working at a family-owned mine panning for gold, or driving a car with friends cross-country.

When World War II broke out Be was at first unable to join up due to poor eyesight, so in 1942 he volunteered for the American Field Service, serving with the British 8th Army, and driving ambulances across the African desert. Though he seldom discussed the war except for humorous anecdotes, exploits of his valor are described in the book Ambulance in Africa, written in 1945 by Evan Thomas, who mentions Be by name. Following service with the British Army, Be was finally able to enlist in the U.S. Marines in 1943. He was assigned to the 5th Marine Division, which went to Iwo Jima. Fortunately, Be was left behind in the rear echelon in Hawaii. Be received an Honorable Discharge in 1945.

Be attended high school at Saint Andrews in Delaware (featured in the movie The Dead Poet’s Society), and Trinity College in CT before the war. After the war he attended Georgia Tech on the GI bill.

Be lived all over the country, ultimately preferring the west to life on the east coast. The majority of his career was spent with the Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co., where he was sales rep/field agent for TX, AZ, and NM, receiving numerous awards before retiring in 1992 after 25 years.

Among Be’s many interests were horse racing, racing chariots, and driving his team of ‘minis’ in parades and to area nursing homes, to the enjoyment of the residents.

Be is survived by wife Jean Johnston, son J.H.E “Excy” Johnston (Amy), of AR, sister Caroline “Carrie” Gardiner, of AZ, and numerous stepchildren, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and many, many friends. He is preceded in death by first wife Rozenia Dunn Johnston and daughter Martha “Mattie” Johnston, and his second wife Flo Watkins, as well as his parents and four brothers.

An honorable man with an infectious sense of humor, Be saw only the good in everyone he met, and cultivated friendships of all ages. A life-long Episcopalian, both Be’s brother and Uncle were noted Episcopal priests.
Services will be held on April 9 at 11:00 a.m., St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 1601 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Telephone: 505 982 1133. A reception at the church will follow immediately afterwards.

Memorial contributions may be given to the following nonprofits: Wing Spur Wild Horses (www.wingspur.org); and the von Hippel Lindau Family Alliance (www.vhl.org).

16 comments:

Ms. A said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Very impressive obituary. Thoughts and prayers, still.

marciamayo said...

What a beautiful tribute to Be you have written.

Brian said...

Many purrs and hugs to you.

Chris said...

Wonderful tribute. I hope you're getting some rest by now.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so very sorry you lost such a wonderful part of your life. You have written a beautiful tribute to an obviously amazing man.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

So sad. I'm very sorry for your loss. Your tribute was lovely! Here's to you getting some well deserved rest after all this.

Jane said...

To reiterate what others have said: beautiful tribute, and I hope you're getting rest.

He sounds like he was a good man who lived a good life. Best we can hope for, right? :)

ReformingGeek said...

I'm so sorry.

I'm glad he was able to leave a full life!

Doris Sturm said...

Please accept my deepest condolences!

e said...

My condolences to all of you. That is an inspiring obituary. I'm also very sorry that at ninety, Be's life was ended by apparent neglect of sound medical practice.

Traci said...

I'm so sorry for Excy's and your loss. He seems like one AMAZING man, what a life. Not only did the eulogy you wrote being me to tears because of his passing, but it is beautifully written as well.

Jayne Martin said...

If I live to be 90, I hope I can look back on a life that full, and I hope someone will write something as lovely for me.

I'm sorry for your loss.

I Wonder Wye said...

thanks to all for your thoughts and kind words. love you all...glad to be home, if only for 2 weeks before turning around to go to SFe for the service...

Tam said...

What a beautiful eulogy. He sounds like the type of man it would have been an honor to know. Welcome home, and prayers to you and Excy.

Kittie Howard said...

I am sorry for your loss. Yes, he lived a full life, but still. My hub is a retired Marine and sends Mr. Johnston a special Sempre Fi and Thank you for his service.

If you Google Kapiolani Park on the island of Oahu, Hawaii and search for pics from the WWII era, you will see an interesting portfolio of where barracks stood where the park is now. Mr. Johnston probably lived in one of those barracks. Also, if you Google the Parker Ranch on the Big Island, Hawaii, you will find photos of training facilities Marines used there. At the entrance to the Parker Ranch today are the USMC emblem and flag and a bronze marker that relates what happened here. (We were stationed in Hawaii when my hub was in the MC.)

Retired English Teacher said...

I missed seeing this post when you first put it up.

I am so sorry to hear of your father-in-law's passing. He was a part of the "greatest generation." My own father passed away at age 86 on March 25, 2002. These two men were of the same generation.

My father loved a well-written obituary. I spent hours writing his because I wanted it to honor him and the life he lived. The obituary you wrote is beautiful. It is a fine tribute to a life well lived. I'm sure he would have been pleased with what you said, and how you said it.

I am sorry that his care seems to have been less than what he should have had. In the end, I hope his passing was peaceful. My thoughts are with you as you go through this time of grief when so many decisions must be made.