Early on Monday morning June 21, Thomas Powell Johnston slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the hand of God. For the past 5 years he has shared the home of his daughter and son-in-law Deedra and Tony Lucero. His greatest joy has been his treasured grandsons, Tre and his daughter Lily, and Travis and his wife Jessica and their children Ashlynne Paige, Adaline Brielle, and Quintin Powell.
He is survived by his “Little Brother” Chuck Johnston and much adored nephews Chuck Jr. Thomas Bradley, and Lee Johnston and their families.
Tom began his life in the West Texas town of Tulia, born on Aug. 7, 1924 to Thomas Pheres Johnston and Betty Louise McFarling Johnston. Although his achievements were many, he remained “just a good ole Texas boy who never did know how to do anything wrong”. He grew up on the family ranch and attended the one-room Lakeview school, riding each day on his pony Dolly who would not stop until she delivered her charges to school.
He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps at age 18, and after pilot training transferred to an air base in Watton, England. He was a 1st Pilot on a B17 Flying Fortress flying heavy weather reconnaissance with a crew of ten before he was 20 years old. After WWII, he moved to Magdalena, NM to work in the timber industry where he met 18 year old Betty Butterfield as she sat on the porch swing of her family home and married her six months later. They were married 55 years until Betty’s passing in 2001.
Tom and Betty lived 10 years in Los Angeles where daughters Deedra and Delane (deceased-1973) were born. Tom proudly served on the Los Angeles Police Dept. He achieved the rank of Sergeant while at the same time completing graduate studies at USC.
Tom moved his family back to his beloved New Mexico in 1957 and was a proud public servant for the AEC/DOE in security and contracts. After retiring from Federal service, he extended his career with BDM Corporation as Director of Contracts. He mentored many young men and women throughout his career.
He married June Rushing in 2002 and cared for her until her passing in 2017. He inherited her sons Don and Mike Rushing and Doug and Ed McConnel and their families.
He was an outdoorsman, hunter, knife maker, fair golfer, and the best Dad and Grandfather ever. If you knew Tom, you loved him, and he loved everyone he ever met. He adored children from the tiniest baby to the most unruly teenager and served many a popsicle in his always full backyard.
In honor of Tom’s lifetime of service to others, please commit a random act of kindness or just give a kid a popsicle.
A Sunset Service will be held at the outdoor chapel at Mountainside Methodist Church, 4 Penny Lane, Cedar Crest, NM at 7:00pm on July 13, 2021.
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