Johnston, William C. "Billy"
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passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 25, 2013 in Chandler, Arizona with his junior-high sweetheart and wife of 68 years at his side. He is survived by his wife Mildred Eleanor (Davis) Johnston, his children Bill (Sue Griffin) of Chandler, Arizona, Nancy (John MacAdams) of Canoga Park, California and Stephen of Eugene, Oregon. His grandchildren Kevin Johnston (Mindy Wholtman) and Kathryn Johnston (Heather Baron) and Jesse Smith (Ana Cardenas) and step-grandson Cameron MacAdams (Allie Moriarty). Also, his four great-grandchildren DeAngelo and DeCaelo Smith and Clare and Connor Johnston. Services will be on Friday, November 29, 2013, at Valley of the Sun Mortuary and Cemetery in Chandler, Arizona. There will be a visitation from 10AM to 11:00 AM, the service at 11AM and then Billy will be laid to rest. Billy was born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, one of seven children. His parents were Mary Collie Thomson and Francis Johnston. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Doris Doncaster Walsh and brothers Alexander, Donald, Richard, and two who died in infancy. In 1942 at 18 years of age, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served as a rifle sharpshooter and a pistol marksman. He saw action on Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Britain and Palau Islands. He was awarded a Purple Heart for the battle of Peleliu. During the war he was a runner for Chesty Puller who went on to become Commander-in-Chief of the United States Marine Corps. Bill proudly wore a cap with the emblem of the First Marine Division the rest of his life. He returned from WWII in 1945 and soon joined the Somerville Fire Department where he served for 34 years until 1981 when he retired as a captain. He was equally proud of his time as a firefighter and as a Marine. Bill was proud to be a Mason. He was also an avid Boston Bruins hockey fan who sponsored a youth hockey team called the Johnston Jets. He was chairman of the committee that re-organized and rebuilt the West Somerville Baptist Church and was a faithful member for all the years he lived in Somerville. Billy and Mildred moved to Arizona City soon after his retirement to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They later moved to the Sun Lakes/Chandler area. Being an active man committed to serving others he worked for the Eloy Fire Department and for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. He was 75 when he quit working full-time. He worked another 5 years Part-time. Billy will be missed for many reasons, including his sense of humor and especially his beautiful singing voice. He was a choir member and soloist at the First Baptist Church of Arizona City, and the Sun Lakes Community Church. In lieu of flowers the family would like to suggest donations be made to the Somerville Fire Department, Local 76 Scholarship Fund, 266 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145. To extend your condolences online please visit www.valleyofthesunfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Nov. 28, 2013