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William Johnston


1926 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
William Johnston Obituary
March 12, 1926 - February 21, 2019 Born on March 12, 1926, in Alhambra, California, William was one of three boys (Ralph, William, and Dick) born to Ogden and Genevieve Johnston. William attended Alhambra High School where he was drum major for the Marching Band and graduated in 1944. William enlisted in the service after high school selecting the Army Air Corps. After his service, William took advantage of the GI Bill and attended USC. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Anthropology in 1949. A Master's Degree in Education from USC followed in 1951. He continued in the military from 1951 – 1958 in the Air Force Reserve as a First Lieutenant. In 1965, he received his Doctorate in Education from UCLA. Oma and William were married on January 21, 1950. They were one of the first residents on their street in the Hollywood Riviera section of Redondo Beach. Hollywood Riviera was, at that time, nothing more than dirt roads and vacant lots. They witnessed first-hand the incredible transformation of their community. Oma and Bill were a remarkable team for 64 years, dedicated to each other throughout their lives. She was his loving partner in every endeavor and was as gracious and comfortable with dignitaries as she was with students and teachers. Sadly, Oma passed away in 2014 after a courageous battle with Alzheimer's. William was always by her side as she struggled with that disease. William's career was centered on public education. He started teaching Math at Gardena High School in 1950. His career arc took him from teacher to adult school principal and finally to Superintendent of Schools. William became Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District in 1971. The 1970's in Los Angeles was a tumultuous time that involved an earthquake, a teachers' strike, the incorporation of bilingual education, and a court order to desegregate. Under William's steady leadership, the Los Angeles Unified School District persevered. He was a visionary in the field of education creating magnet schools to appeal to students based on their talents and interests, We see how this remarkable program has blossomed today enabling so many to achieve their dreams in the humanities, arts, sciences, engineering. He was Superintendent for 10 years, and his community outreach was remarkable. He was on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Boys Scouts of America, YMCA of Los Angeles, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Special Olympics, and Orthopedic Hospital. He was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and Chairman of the California State Lottery Commission. After his thirty-seven year career with the Los Angeles Unified School District, William went on to serve as manager of Public Affairs at the Southern California Gas Company. He also became Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Blue Shield of California. He definitely left the world better than he found it, and he gave the very best he had. He and his many friends were part of the Greatest Generation who returned from war and got to work building their families, our nation's schools and the country. Their generosity of spirit knew no bounds whether it was providing instruction to newly arrived immigrants or creating occupational training for those needing a different pathway than a college degree. We are so blessed to have had them in our lives. William is survived by his daughter Kathy (Gary), son Michael (Francine), grandson, William, brother, Richard (Arline) Johnston, and sister-in-law Jane Johnston. The family is so grateful for the support and warmth extended by the many dear friends over the years. Please sign the guestbook at dailybreeze.com/obits. WL00191020-image-1.jpg
Published in Daily Breeze on Feb. 28, 2019
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