OBITUARY

Ralph Buford Johnston

October 11, 1916May 13, 2018
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Ralph Buford Johnston was born in Greene County on October 11, 1916, and died in Greeneville on May 13, 2018. He was preceded in death by his parents (Cordie Morrell Johnston and Hugh Reno Johnston), first wife (Mary Ruth Ottinger), one sister (Edith Dunn), two brothers (James Johnston and Hugh Johnston Jr.), second wife (Fawn Reeser), one great-grandson (Jackson Johnston), and special companion Irene Stills.

He is survived by his daughter, Patricia Brewer and husband, Lynn, of Morristown; son, Ralph Johnston Jr. and wife, Faith, of Piney Flats; five grandchildren and their spouses: Hugh & Deb Brewer of VA, Wess & Christine Brewer of SC, Jason & Jackee Johnston of TN, Jasper (Johnston) & Bert Jolley of GA, and Janette (Johnston) & Michael Natter of NY; eight great-grandchildren: Hannah, Joshua & Benjamin Brewer of TX, Anna & Jessica Brewer of SC, Jayce Johnston of TN, and Archer & August Jolley of GA; several nieces and nephews; and special neighbor, Sammy Anderson.

He graduated as Valedictorian from Greeneville High School in 1935 and was the first member of his family to attain a college degree, which he did as a member of the 1939 graduating class of Tusculum College with a degree in Mathematics and minor in Religion. He worked for East Tennessee Light and Power Company beginning in 1940 and retired from Tennessee Valley Authority after 27 years in 1972. In his retirement, he toured each of the 50 states and 47 countries on six of the seven continents. In addition to travel, he enjoyed square dancing and regularly hosted Rook players at his home. He enjoyed coin collecting and repairing antique clocks.

He was a member of New Ebenezer Presbyterian Church both as a child and again toward the end of his life. He lived in his own home until after the age of 101.

Special thanks to his caretaker Doris Stanton and the caring staff at Signature Healthcare of Greeneville.

The family will receive friends 4-6 p.m. Sunday at Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home.

There will be a graveside service at 11:00 a.m. Monday at GreeneLawn Memory Gardens with Mary Jane Farmer CLP officiating. Family and friends are asked to meet at the cemetery for the committal service.

  • FAMILY

  • Patricia and Lynn Brewer, Daughter and Son-in-law
  • Ralph Jr. and Faith Johnston, Son and Daughter-in-law
  • Hugh and Deb Brewer, Grandson and Wife
  • Wess and Christine Brewer, Grandson and Wife
  • Jason and Jackee Johnston, Grandson and Wife
  • Jasper Johnston and Bert Jolley, Granddaughter and Spouse
  • Janette Johnston and Michael Natter, Granddaughter and Spouse
  • Hannah, Joshua, and Benjamin Brewer, Great Grandchildren
  • Anna and Jessica Brewer, Great Grandchildren
  • Jayce Johnston, Great Grandchild
  • Archer and August Jolley, Great Grandchildren
  • Sammy Anderson, Special Neighbor
  • Cordie Morrell Johnston, Mother
  • Hugh Reno Johnston, Father
  • Mary Ruth Ottinger, First Wife
  • Edith Dunn, Sister
  • James Johnston, Brother
  • Hugh Johnston Jr., Brother
  • Fawn Reeser, Second Wife
  • Jackson Johnston, Great Grandson
  • Irene Stills, Special Friend

Services

  • Visitation Sunday, May 20, 2018
  • Graveside Service Monday, May 21, 2018
REMEMBERING

Ralph Buford Johnston

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Christine Hawk Loveday

May 26, 2018

Hello, My name is Christine Hawk Loveday. My grandparents were Drew and Juanita DeWitt. My parents were JC and Ruth Hawk. I saw this obituary in the JC Press and I believe it is the same Ralph Johnston that I heard so much about growing up from my grandparents and my mother, Ruth DeWitt Hawk. Every time his name was mentioned it was with such adoration. I believe he worked with my grandfather at the TVA Light and Power Company. He may have even been a pallbearer at my grandfather's funeral and maybe my grandmother's. My grandfather also attended New Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, too. I just wanted you to know I believe he was a friend of my grandparents and they and my mother always spoke highly of him and held him in high esteem.

I am sorry for your loss. My father was almost 98 last year when he passed away and even though he was "older" it doesn't make the loss any easier to bear.

Sincerely,
Dr. Christine Hawk Loveday

Jerry Potter

May 18, 2018

Pop you will always be "POP" to me.

Jennifer Manuel

May 16, 2018

I WILL NEVER FORGET MR. JOHNSTON. HE ALWAYS HAD A KIND WORD OR FUNNY STORY TO TELL ME EVEN IF HE WAS NOT FEELING HIS BEST. I WOULD LOOK FORWARD TO OUR DAILY VISITS WHEN HE WOULD TELL ME OF HIS WORLDLY TRAVELS. HIS FAVORITE....THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA. YOU WILL ME MISSED MY FRIEND. FLY HIGH.

FROM THE FAMILY
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FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Ralph Buford Johnston was known as many things to many people. He was a loved one, a friend, and someone special. To family and friends who knew him best, Ralph will be remembered as a very exceptional person.

      Ralph was born on October 11, 1916 at home in Greene County, Tennessee. He was the son of Hugh Reno Johnston and Cordie Blanch Morrell Johnston. Ralph grew up in Greene County.

      Ralph was raised with three siblings. He had three younger siblings: Edith Nell Johnston, James Crocket Johnston, and Hugh Reno Johnston Jr. Ralph was usually involved in all sorts of activities with his siblings. He and his siblings experienced rivalries typical of a growing family, but they shared many life experiences over the years.

      As a young boy, Ralph had a number of interests. Like most children, he enjoyed playing and making up games. He was curious about the world around him and was often eager to explore it. However, to Ralph, the most fun to be had was simply playing and spending time with his friends.

      A typical teenager, Ralph had a fairly happy high school experience, making that critical transition from adolescence to adulthood. He graduated from Greeneville High School in 1935. He enjoyed some classes more than others, having favorite subjects and teachers. His favorite class in high school was mathematics. He will be remembered by being the Valedictorian of his class.

      Ralph enjoyed his college years, which may have been a challenge with all of the academics, responsibilities, and the sudden freedom that accompanied them, but Ralph was able to manage the balancing act. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from Tusculum College in the class of 1939. His favorite courses were mathematics. One of Ralph's greatest accomplishments was being the first in his family to graduate from college.

      On January 30, 1940 Ralph exchanged wedding vows with Mary Ruth Ottinger (who died in 1977) at a judge's house in Greeneville, Tennessee. Empathic and loyal, Ralph was committed to making his new family happy. He was also married to Fawn Reeser, who passed away in 2009.

      Ralph worked hard to be a good father to his children and he did his best to fulfill their needs. Ralph was blessed with two children, a daughter, Patricia Ann Johnston Brewer, and a son, Ralph Buford Johnston Jr. Another blessing for Ralph was the gift of five grandchildren, Hugh Brewer, Wess Brewer, Jason Johnston, Jasper (Johnston) Jolley, and Janette (Johnston) Natter.

      Fortunately, Ralph enjoyed what he did for a living. Showing a strong work ethic, Ralph worked diligently and did his best to succeed in his career. His primary occupation was as a power plant superintendent for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was employed for 27 years by TVA. Ralph always sought to be a team player, doing what was necessary in order to get the job done.

      Ralph enjoyed his leisure time by taking part in various hobbies. His favorite pursuits were coin collecting, repairing antique clocks, square dancing, playing Rook, and traveling. He was content to enjoy his favorite pastimes alone but was also willing to share his interests with others. He was able to live at home until he reached 101 years of age.

      Ralph found pleasure in sports. Ralph was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed following his favorite events whenever he had the chance to do so. Tops on his list were football and baseball.

      Ralph’s faith was important to him. He was a member of New Ebenezer Presbyterian Church for over 100 years (as a child and again at the end of his life).

      Ralph enjoyed traveling and time away on vacations. It was a chance for him to renew and relax, to visit new places and experience new things. Favorite vacations included touring each of the 50 states and 47 countries on six continents.

      Ralph was a lover of animals and cherished his pets. One of his favorites was Tiger, a cat. They were best friends for 10 years. His family was rounded out by his dog, Sissy, and his cat, Miss Puss.

      When Ralph’s retirement finally arrived in 1972, he was well prepared. His new life involved relocating to Greeneville, after living in Johnson City. In retirement, he found new pleasure in gardening, clock repair, coin collecting, and travel. Even in retirement, Ralph continued to stay in touch with his old friends while making plenty of new acquaintances. Ralph was active in his new community and felt fulfilled with the opportunities retirement offered him.

      Ralph passed away on May 13, 2018 at Signature Health Care in Greeneville, Tennessee. Ralph died of old age. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law: Patricia and Lynn Brewer; son and daughter-in-law: Ralph Jr. and Faith Johnston; grandchildren and spouses: Hugh and Deb Brewer, Wess and Christine Brewer, Jason and Jackee Johnston, Jasper Johnston and Bert Jolley, and Janette Johnston and Michael Natter; eight great grandchildren: Hannah, Joshua, and Benjamin Brewer, Anna and Jessica Brewer, Jayce Johnston, and Archer and August Jolley; several nieces and nephews; and a special neighbor, Sammy Anderson. Services were held at Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home. Ralph was laid to rest in GreeneLawn Memory Gardens in Greeneville, Tennessee.

      Simply stated, Ralph was a good and kind person, an individual who will for all time be remembered by his family and friends as being a caring and giving person, someone who was a vital part of their lives. Ralph leaves behind him a legacy of life-long friendships and many cherished memories. Everyone whose life he touched will always remember Ralph Buford Johnston.