Early in the morning our husband, father and grandfather went on to be with God his father in heaven. Always an “early bird” he passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 6th, 2013, at 4:00 a.m. in his home.
Born June 17, 1932 in Helena, MT to Mary Roselda Coram and Andrew Wallace Johnston. The youngest of six children, he was raised in Helena and graduated from Helena High in 1951. As a young man he was most interested in anything with a motor, rebuilding radios where he worked at Curey TV and Appliance and pursuing his car hobby. His knowledge of cars was endless. The same year he graduated high school he enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve and began active duty in 1953-56 where he served as a Fire Controller on the USS John A. Bole during the Korean War. He received an Honorable Discharge in 1957.
On June 2, 1954 while on leave from the Navy he married his high school sweetheart, Leona Pisk in Hollywood, CA. Two years later their only child Carmen was born. When he returned home from active duty, he and his brother Andy owned and operated their car business ‘Johnston Motors, and later added RV sales to the business. He was a master negotiator and lived for “the deal!” As an RV salesman it only made sense to learn the product by using it, so he and Leona travelled the countryside visiting Mexico, Arizona and points in between, always making a last stop at his sister Margaurite’s home in Yucca Valley, CA. They also followed his nephew Wally to numerous boat races in Washington.
In 1973 Bill took his last drink and joined the ranks of Alcoholics Anonymous. He made many friends and helped others free themselves from the bondage of alcohol.
Bill and Leona’s lives were forever changed when their granddaughters Chelsia and Cassidy were born, leading to semi- retirement and their move to Billings in 1997 to be with all of his girls full-time. He beamed with pride whenever he talked about them, watching them grow up and go on to college. He told everyone how proud he was of them and believed that no matter what they did they would succeed.
For many years on the 4th of July, Bill looked forward to joining his large extended family at the home of his nephew Andy Skinner at Hauser Lake. It was a tradition he never wanted to miss. During the last several years he enjoyed spending a few days with his nephew John Williams marveling over John’s latest car renovations and cruising Helena to visit friends and his other nephew Dennis Curey to check out welding and car makeovers.
Bill is preceded in death by his sisters, Eileen Curey and Pat Olson, brothers Terrance “Rip” and Andy. He is survived by his wife Leona of 59 years, daughter Carmen (Bob) Leach, granddaughters Chelsia and Cassidy Leach, his sister Margaurite Wildey of Yucca Valley, CA and many nephews and nieces.
Good bye Grandpa, we love you and will miss you so much! “Never above you, never below you, always with you….”