Frederick "Fred" George Johnston Jr.
July 6, 1948 – April 2, 2021
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” - Isaiah 43:2
Frederick ‘Fred’ George Johnston, Jr., born on July 6, 1948, was brought home to God the morning of April 2, 2021. He went by many names - ‘Mickey’ or ‘Mick’ was given to him as a toddler because his ears stuck out a bit and so this nickname was kept by the Johnston family. ‘Farmer’ was a name he picked up playing baseball with the neighborhood kids, ‘Fast Freddie,’ ‘Captain,’ and then his favorite names of ‘Dad’ and ‘PawPaw.’
The first born son of Frederick George Johnston, Sr. and Mary Louise Bray; Fred was the little brother to Gail (Johnston) Guerrero and big brother to Joni (Johnston) Brice, Judy Johnston, and John Johnston. His parents were divorced when he was a teenager and Lenora (Carlan) Johnston became a loving, second mother. Fred acquired four step siblings: Sharon (Carlan) Brown, Sam, Stan, and Steve Carlan.
Fred was preceded in death by his father, his mother, his stepmother, and his stepbrothers, Sam and Steve. He is survived by the love of his life, his wife of 45 years (July 12, 1975), Susan Marie (Andrews) Johnston and their three children: Andrew ‘Andy’ Scott Johnston (spouse Kyle Johnston), Rebecca ‘Bekki’ Sue (Johnston) Whitcher (spouse Roger Whitcher, Jr.), and Jeffrey ‘Ryan’ Johnston (Spouse Erin Johnston). He is also survived by five grandsons and two granddaughters ranging in ages from 15 to 4, all of whom were the lights of his life: Parker, Evan, William, Riley, Luke, Laird, and Emery.
Fred was born in Muskegon, MI, and raised in Twin Lake, MI, a beautiful small town where he lived among many close relatives. His family moved to Florida in 1958, eventually settling in Jacksonville. He graduated from Englewood High School in 1966 and grew up with the neighborhood kids in Southside Estates, many of whom were still among his closest friends throughout his life. At the age of 17, he became a volunteer firefighter with Southside Estates, discovering his life’s passion to become a professional firefighter. He knew that he wanted to be a firefighter and that desire he would often talk about as a calling; one that no one and nothing could stop. It’s a good thing that he listened to his heart, because God instilled in him the necessary qualities to do the hard work that so very few of us can do.
During the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the US Navy, in which he was active duty for 2 years and a reservist for 4 years. He spent the bulk of his active-duty time on Midway Island, where he became the DJ for the island radio station, and could play his favorite tunes to his heart’s content.
Once back in Florida, he obtained an AA from FSCJ, then FJC, in Fire Science and joined the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department in January of 1972 at 23 years old. It is in this period of time that he met Sue, then a nursing student, who would become the love of his life. They married on July 12, 1975, and raised their 3 children in Mandarin, FL. Fred rose through the JFRD ranks to become a Rescue Captain. Most of his career was spent in the field making runs to those in need, alongside his fellow firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics. Through these countless runs, Fred made many, many lifelong friends with whom he loved to converse, joke, gather around the table, and simply be around. He also spent 6 years working for the JFRD administration downtown assisting as a liaison. He retired from JFRD at the end of 2006, culminating his 36 year career as a firefighter.
Fred was very proud to be a descendant of and Elder in the Native American Ottawa Tribe, the Little River Band, in Michigan. He looked forward to connecting with family and friends every year in Michigan during their annual conferences, up until his death. He read many books on Native American history and traditions. He often spoke of different Indian beliefs and he appreciated their culture, lifestyle, and connection with nature.
Fred was an avid reader and poured through books on American history, politics, Native Americans and really enjoyed a good spy novel. He connected to God, we believe, through his frequent reading of the Bible. He enjoyed food (both cooking and eating), and loved baseball and golf. During his 14-year retirement, he traveled with Sue to Europe three times and had taken many U.S. trips; always marveling at nature, history, and other cultures and customs. He especially enjoyed visiting Germany, where his father helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp in WWII during his service in the US Army, a fact he was very proud of.
He loved being involved in any organization that needed help, such as Vision Is Priceless (VIP). Fred was always ready for a cooking competition and was on standby to help out family or friends, and was always ready to go to the next ballgame.
His first obligation was to his family, close and extended, and he was always there to help when needed. He was always ready to warm up his BBQ grill to start cooking for the family’s many events at his house. His homemade datil pepper and BBQ sauces were loved by many. He was always ready for the next joke, the next well-played prank, and a good conversation.
His FD friends were a close second to his family, and were so very important to him. These relationships cannot be easily described, and the importance of which cannot be overstated. His trips to the Union Office were frequent, and his involvement there was the highlight of his day.
He is leaving behind a huge void that will never be filled. Godspeed my sweet Fred, Dad, and PawPaw.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Mass of Christian Burial
Friday, April 9, 2021
Frederick "Fred" George Johnston Jr.
April 9, 2021
My deepest sympathy...Fred responded to a crash that I was involved in in1976 and I never forgot his kindness and professionalism. He was truly a fine man and a true friend. Heaven will be a better place because of him.
God bless you, sir....
April 8, 2021
I worked closely with Fred when he was assigned to Fire Headquarters, and frequently during his field assignments in his long career with Jacksonville Fire-Rescue. He was a well respected leader within the Department. A man of many talents, generous heart and giving disposition, Fred could always be counted on when the need for help arose. We enjoyed many lively discussions at the Union Office on world events, local political activities, his recent travels and his latest cooking story. May Fred rest in the Peace of Our Lord.
April 7, 2021
Dear Sue, Andy, and family,
I am so very sorry to hear of Fred’s passing. I always enjoyed seeing him and hearing his jokes. He had such an infectious smile and laugh and I will certainly miss him.
God bless you all in the times ahead and know you are in my thoughts and prayers. I’m sure Fred left behind so many wonderful memories.
April 6, 2021
I met Fred at Englewood Jr.-Sr. High School in the eighth grade. Our friendship became increasingly closer when we became volunteer fire fighters, then becoming professional fire fighters and making our way into Jacksonville Fire and Rescue's Rescue (EMS) Division. We spent 12 years together on a number of different Rescue units in different areas of the city. He was an outstanding professional and one of the City's first certified paramedics. Those years together were the highlight of my own career.
As a friend of over fifty years he was extraordinary; caring , loyal, a true confident and always the first to help us through family crises and family tragedies.
Over the years we spent together it was obvious that he was a loving, devoted family man to Sue and the Children and all of his relatives and in-laws.
As a lieutenant and captain with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Fred earned the affectionate respect of those he supervised and he continued to care about them long after assignments changed.
Fred was a special man. My family and so many others thank God for Fred Johnston in our lives.
April 6, 2021
Sue and family, I am so sorry to hear of Fred’s sudden passing. I am praying for each of you to receive love and comfort at this very sorrowful time. I know Fred is in the midst of our Savior and experiencing the greatest of love that none of us on Earth can imagine.
April 5, 2021
Words cannot heal the pain of losing someone so dear. Fred's passing is devastating news. Please accept my sincere condolences.