Thomas E. Johnston, PhD, 83, of Painesville died June 23, 2023, at home surrounded by family.
Born Dec. 11, 1939, to Catherine (nee Lucyszyn) and Emmett Johnston in Olean, N.Y., he graduated from Olean High School, earned a BS in Chemistry from St. Bonaventure University (NY), and a doctorate in Chemistry from Purdue University. He proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
He married Juanita Krenzer, also from Olean, in 1965, and together they raised four children in Newark, Del., West Grove, Pa., Beaumont, Texas, and Houston, Texas, before moving to Lake County.
He began his professional career with E.I. DuPont in the labs in Chambers Works, N.J. Working in fuel additives, he invented and was awarded several patents for additives that were used to replace lead in gasoline. With that technical expertise, he moved into managerial roles, including spending several years in international sales, managing refinery facilities, and earning an executive MBA from Wharton.
A lifelong student, he was a largely self-taught musician and enjoyed playing jazz favorites on the piano as well as writing original melodies inspired by his family. He earned his way through graduate school as a teaching assistant and pool hustler. As a young husband and father, he taught adult math classes, mentored Junior Achievement students, and umpired local baseball games.
For his children and grandchildren, he imparted life lessons through chess, poker, and blackjack. He had three rules for his family: be better than him, remember the world is full of creeps and dummies, and an upside down rook is a queen. In later years, nothing delighted him more than when he growled at his three great-granddaughters and instead of being startled, they growled back with more ferocity.
He took great strength from his Catholic faith and believed nothing was more important than defense of the truth and doing the right thing, knowing that doing so rarely comes without cost or sacrifice.
He is survived by his lifelong love, his wife, Juanita; children, Patricia Johnston, Kathleen (Tim) Price, Michael Johnston, and Stephen (Lauren O’Connell) Johnston; grandchildren, Katharine (Nicholas) Wilson, Tommy Price, Kari Price, Mark Price, Amanda Johnston, Stephen Johnston, Michael Johnston, Connor Johnston and Corbin Johnston; great-grandchildren, Mikayla, Emmalynne, Charlotte, Lorelei, and unborn twins Jackson and Bennett Wilson; sister, Nancy (Joe) Gugino; sister-in-law, Loretta Padlo; niece and nephews, Robert Padlo, Jeremy Gugino, Jill (Jonathan) Pante; and great-nephews, Jacob and Nathan Pante.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 28, at St. Mary of the Assumption, 8560 Mentor Ave., Mentor, on Wednesday. Burial will follow at Mentor Municipal Cemetery in Mentor. Friends may join the family for a celebration of life at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the American Legion Post 336 in Painesville.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Ohio Living Home Health and Hospice, 9200 Worthington Rd., Suite 300, Westerville, OH 43082.
Arrangements are entrusted to McMahon-Coyne-Vitantonio Funeral Homes in Willoughby and Mentor.
To leave condolences for the family, visit www.MCVfuneralhomes.com.