August 9, 1934 - April 7, 2013
Ronald Lavern Johnstone, 78, of Yorktown, Indiana passed away on April 7, 2013 after a brief illness. He passed with his wife of 52 years, Arline (Harms) Johnstone, at his side. Ron was born in Beech, North Dakota on August 9, 1934. He spent his formative years growing up in California and went to college in Missouri, where he received his Doctor of Divinity from Concordia College and the University of Michigan, receiving a Ph.D in Sociology. Ron and Arline married in 1960 and settled in Mt. Pleasant, MI in 1969, where they raised their 3 children.
Ron was a professor of Sociology, with a specialization in the Sociology of Religion. He was the proud author of seven editions of Religion in Society, first published in 1975. Ron moved into academic administration becoming Dean of Arts and Sciences at Central Michigan University and finishing his career as Dean of Sciences and Humanities at Ball State University for 12 years.
Ron was an avid collector, amassing significant collections of postage stamps, rare coins, sheet music, and Dixieland jazz albums and 78s. Ron was a musician himself, playing trumpet and piano in jazz bands in his early years. He found joy in passing his piano skills on to his children and grandchildren. In later years, he found more time to enjoy reading.
A devoted Lutheran, Ron was instrumental in the creation of the Lutheran Council in the USA. Ron was also fortunate to use his religious training to be chaplain at the Lutheran chapel at the University of Michigan and guest pastor at other churches.
Ron was an accomplished gardener, managing a large garden of fruits and vegetables in all of the homes that he and Arline shared over the years. He was proud to have never relinquished his lawn duties to outside assistance (other than a little help from children and grandchildren), including a record 100+ bags of leaves at a particularly challenging home with a majestic oak tree in Muncie.
Ron and Arline enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S. from Maine to California, focusing most often on their mutual love of Colorado, the Midwest and "Up North" in northern Michigan. Ron acquired a love for fishing growing up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. Summer vacations in northern Michigan and later in Indiana always had healthy doses of fishing for pan fish and he passed the love of fishing on to his children and grandchildren. He loved a beautiful sunset overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, where they were fortunate to spend many summer vacations. Ron is survived by his devoted wife Arline Barbara (Harms); daughters, Kirsten Osborn (husband Jim), Donna Cunningham (husband Rick); and son, Ken (partner Michele); brother, Douglas Johnstone (wife Phyllis); five grandchildren, Kevin and Carlyn Osborn, Connor, Nicole and Shepherd Cunningham; and beloved in-laws, nieces, and nephews.
Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Ross and Margaret; and newborn infant son, Eric.
Memorial contributions in Ron's Honor can be made to the Ball State University Foundation #7701, Alumni Center, 2800 West Bethel Avenue, Muncie, Indiana 47306 or the Lutheran Church of the Cross labyrinth and gardens, 4401 North Wheeling Avenue, Muncie, Indiana 47303
The Meeks Mortuary and Crematory, Mt. Pleasant Chapel, Muncie, IN is in charge arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to the family at
Published in The Morning Sun on Apr. 12, 2013