Robert Lee Johnston Jr.

June 10, 1922June 24, 2014

Robert Lee (Bob) Johnston, Jr. died Tuesday, June 24 in Mesquite, Texas at the age of 92. He died peacefully at Christian Care Center after a brief illness. He was known to his family and many others as Pop. A characteristic he was well known for, and never lost, was his wit and sense of humor. His optimism, cheerfulness, and kindness made him someone that others enjoyed being with. Mr. Johnston was a longtime resident of Abilene. He was born June 10, 1922 in Spearman, Texas; the second of 3 children to R. L. Johnston, Sr. and Eula Storrs Johnston. He attended school in Boise City, Oklahoma, and after graduation attended business college in Amarillo, Texas.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He became a Signalman, serving aboard the USS Caldwell. April 27, 1946, Bob married Vivian M. (Vee) Skillings, a Navy WAVE he had first known in Oklahoma. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina, but soon returned to Oklahoma to engage in the grain business. Their first two children, Nina and Jeannie, were born during this period. Quite soon they moved to Abilene for Bob to attend Abilene Christian College on the GI Bill. While earning his BA in English and MA in Greek from ACC, and for years afterward, Mr. Johnston preached for small congregations, including the Church of Christ in Bend, Texas. Two more children were born in Abilene, Lowell and Alison, and he began teaching at ACC.

The family moved to Austin for Bob to pursue a doctoral degree in the Classics at the University of Texas. For some time he was director of the Bible Chair at the University Avenue Church of Christ. Their fifth child, Brian, was born in Austin. In 1961 they returned to Abilene, where Mr. Johnston taught Greek, Latin and Hebrew. R. L. Johnston, Jr. was a man of integrity with a great love of learning and a gift for teaching. His students have gone on to serve as ministers, missionaries, university professors, and mayor of Abilene. After his retirement from ACU, Mr. Johnston taught Latin in the Abilene Public Schools.

For many years Mr. and Mrs. Johnston were members of University Church of Christ. He was particularly interested in supporting ministries to Spanish speaking people, and made trips to Argentina and Mexico. Mr. Johnston remained a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve until he retired as a Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank. He was also involved for many years in scouting, both in his youth and when his sons were Boy Scouts. In addition, he was a Water Safety Instructor, teaching swimming classes and serving as a Life Guard. Later he joined the Kiwanis Club, and after studying family genealogy, he became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Mr. Johnston held offices in the Abilene chapter of SAR, and helped to establish the San Angelo SAR chapter.

The Johnston’s put their energies into their family, Abilene Christian, and the community of Abilene. They loved their neighbors on E.N. 23rd Street and the surrounding streets, visiting with everyone they met during their daily walks. They also made good friends at places they frequented, especially the Harvest Moon restaurant. Mr. Johnston enjoyed woodworking, and he made walking canes as gifts.

Bob Johnston grew up in the Oklahoma panhandle as the son of pioneer families. He had a deep affection for the people and the history of the plains, and for nature. He was a lifelong visitor to Red River, New Mexico, taking family members for summer vacations. In later years Mr. Johnston spent countless hours caring for his lawn and garden.

Mrs. Vee Johnston died in 2008, after 62 years of marriage. She had been ill for several years, and Bob cared for her at home and later at Windcrest Alzheimer’s Care Center. Since early 2010 Mr. Johnston has lived in Richardson, Texas with his daughter Jeannie Mayeux and her husband Randy.

Mr. Johnston was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Wilma Nell Saunders, and his wife Vivian. He is survived by a brother, William B. (Bill) Johnston of Sweetwater, Texas; daughters Nina Johnston, of Farmers Branch, Texas; Jeannie Mayeux and her husband Randy of Richardson, Texas; Alison Peden and her husband Glenn of Grapevine, Texas; sons Lowell Johnston and his wife Teresa of Abilene; Brian Johnston of Corona, California; 19 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren. He was the best sort of man, and will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston served their country proudly, and they arranged to be buried with other veterans in the Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene.

Services will be held at the University Church of Christ, 733 EN 16th St. in Abilene on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:00a.m. Burial will follow in the Texas State Veterans Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home, 542 Hickory St. Visitation will be Thursday evening from 6:00 to 8:00p.m. at the funeral home.

Memorial gifts may be made to Abilene Christian University and sent to: ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas, 79699. Your gift will benefit the Arete Award, made to the outstanding 2nd year Greek student at ACU. In honor of Mr. Johnston, it is being renamed the R.L. Johnston, Jr. Award.


  • Visitation

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Funeral Service

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • Military Honors

    Friday, June 27, 2014


Robert Lee Johnston Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Robin Stamps

December 15, 2020

At ACU in 1979, I was a second year Greek student. Koine was my favorite subject and became a foundation for future learning. Rest in Peace Mr. Johnston.
Robin Stamps (nee Moore)

David Carter

December 22, 2014

This is late entry as I came back to find a copy of Bob's obituary. This was a quiet, gentle giant of man, who inspired me to study Greek and Bible in a serious way. He a personal encourager and, when called to serve during the Viet Nam era and I went into the Navy, he further counseled me about my Navy career as I enlisted as a Seaman until I retired 23 years later as a Naval Reserve Captain. He was a great Master Chief Petty Officer and "old salt" of the first order, an aspect of him that many would not have the opportunity to appreciate. I remember him so fondly as a significant influence on my life. He was also a good colleague to my father and fellow veteran of the same age. I will miss him and hope to model his life in some small way, if possible.

Jerry C. Lawlis

July 8, 2014

I was blessed to be one of Dr. Johnston's first Greek and Latin students at ACC after he completed his PhD. in 1963. He was an exceptional student of the Greek language. He greatly instilled in me the desire to be a better student of languages. May his influence through all of his students bear witness to his Godliness.

July 2, 2014

Bob and Vee were very special friends I will never forget. Bob and Abe worked together in the bookstore with James Fulbright. I met them in summer 1952 after high school graduation.

My sincere condolences to all his family.

Phyllis Malherbe

Bao Nguyen

July 1, 2014

My deepest sympathies to the Johnston family. Magister Johnston made a lasting impression on me as my Latin teacher in high school. He served to my youthful eyes as a fine example of a scholar, public servant, and a Christian man.

Randy Mayeux

June 29, 2014

This is a great "captured the man:" obituary.
just posted this blog post about Mr. Johnston as student.

Randy Mayeux, Richardson, TX

Debbie Hoffman

June 28, 2014

Alison and family,
I'm sorry I was unable to attend the funeral and see you and Glenn! Your dad was a great man and I hope he and my dad get to meet each other in Heaven and compare notes!
Love you guys!
Debbie Minick Hoffman

June 27, 2014

Bob Johnston was a superb teacher and an exemplary Christian. At a time when ACC didn't have many teachers of his caliber, Preston would probably have transferred to UT except for him and Jim Culp. Preston was also blessed to have Alison in his class. God bless you.
Preston and Marsha Harper

June 27, 2014

First year Greek with this man. A real linguist. "Mr. Smith can you decline this word ..." Respected students, and received twofold it in return. God bless his family.

David Ingram Jr.

June 26, 2014

We met Bob and Mrs. Vee when we lived in Abilene from 2000/03, sat by them at University CofC worship, visited them in their home. They always seemed to have a peace and a joy in them that spilled over on those who surrounded them. Our daughters needed a military "grandfather" one time for an activity at Taylor Elementary and they asked Bob to stand in for their grandfather who couldn't attend, and Bob did so proudly and with great joy. A great man who is now with our Lord and those who went before him. I pray for the Spirit's comfort and the peace of God for the entire family.