By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
4:52 PM EST, March 1, 2013
James E. Johnston, a retired Navy Department worker who also maintained a home-improvement business, died Sunday of cancer at FutureCare Lochearn.
The longtime Northwest Baltimore resident was 88.
Born and raised in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., James Eugene Johnston was the son of a seamstress. His father died when he was 5, family members said.
After graduating in 1942 from McIver High School in Roanoke Rapids, Mr. Johnston enlisted in the Army. He served as a cook, and after being discharged in 1944, remained an active reservist for six years.
He returned to North Carolina, where he studied carpentry at a trade school. In 1950, he moved to Baltimore and went to work in Washington in the personnel office of the Navy Department. He retired in 1980.
Mr. Johnston's "true passion" was his home-improvement business "through which he established lasting friendships with many people through the years," said a daughter, Evelyn Wilson of Randallstown.
"Skilled as a painter and a carpenter, his work and reputation enabled him to renovate many homes in the Baltimore area," said Ms. Wilson.
Mr. Johnston also worked in security at the Arena Players for many years.
He was a former president of the old Alexander Hamilton Elementary School PTA and had been president of the tenant council at Arlington Estates Senior Citizen Co-Op.
Mr. Johnston was a sports fan and maintained a collection of historic newspapers and scrapbooks.
He had been a member for 33 years of Pleasant Rock Baptist Church, where he had been a deacon and chairman of the Trustee Ministry.
Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at his church, 1009 Scott St.
Surviving are another daughter, Dorothy Savage of Ellicott City; a brother, Orange Williams of Brooklyn, N.Y.; two sisters, Queen Williams of Totowa, N.J., and Violet Bert of Jamaica, N.Y.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Sally Pullen ended in divorce.
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