Billy Johnston
1943 - 2020
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Billy Johnston
Age 77
Resident of Martinez, CA
WILLIAM RICHARD JOHNSTON
January 14, 1943— December 20, 2020
On December 20, 2020, our beloved father, husband, grandfather, uncle, brother, and dear friend passed away as he lived, surrounded by friends and family, loving him as fiercely as he loved all of us.
William Richard Johnston, better known as Billy, was born 77 years ago on January 14th, 1943 in Broderick, West Sacramento, California. Son of Mary Ramos and William Johnston, Billy brought great joy to those who loved him. Whether it was his quick smile, light blue Scottish and Portuguese eyes, or else his infectious laugh, Billy from a young age was the center of everyone's story. As a boy, he wore his compassion on his sleeve, secretly bringing home strays to adopt them, much to the consternation of his mother. And, as he grew into a man, he collected more strays, people who gravitated to his magnetic personality and forged friendships that lasted his lifetime. Even though he was a man of few words, he made a very large impact on those he came in contact with.
Billy was the oldest of 4 with his brother and sisters Kenny, Patty, and Kathy. He was always there to take care of his family and impressed upon his daughters, Dana and Tara, that there was nothing more important then family. No matter the issue or occasion, he was there.
In high school, right out of a page from Grease, Billy and his friends formed the Firm, a group of friends and then wives, and then entire families, that would grow for over 60 years, together until the end. Billy was one of five in the beginning, but always, part of the glue that kept their bond strong. All of our families love them, as brothers and fathers, and we feel their sorrow as we say goodbye to Billy.
William Johnston, ever the comedian, was also a consummate professional, working as a Court Reporter for both the Federal Government and then, the State of California, working on some of the biggest cases of the time. Ever diligent, and with tireless work ethic, Billy served our communities for decades, often working late into the nights to keep up with the caseload for the judges and attorneys that relied on him.
As a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather Billy was as solid as granite: his strong hug, and a quick squeeze in tough times telling his children and grandchildren, everything was going to be OK. He was the perfect parent, tough when he needed to be, and as soft and as sweet as any child or grandchild wanted him to be. As a brother, and uncle to the children of Patty, Kenny, Kathy and Bobbie, he will forever be remembered for the love and time he gave each and every one of them.
While Billy loved many, and many loved him, there was no greater love than that he had for his dear sweet Gracie Faye Browne, who he met at 17 years old in high school. She was his Sandra Dee—new to the school and innocent—and he was her Danny Zuko (and just as devilish and good looking.) Billy loved Gracie with a fierceness that knew no match. And she him, ever his protector through to his final days. What began then as a crush, soon become a marriage, and then grew into a sprawling family with their beloved daughters, Dana and Tara, who will both miss their daddy greatly.
Fatherhood is built on thousands of hugs, tear stained shoulders, laughter, and quiet moments of pride, love, and support. And while they, their husbands (like sons) Nathan and Charles, and his grandchildren Chandler, Kayla, Bailey, Jack, Ethan, and Sophie won't be able to hug him anymore, memories of Billy's warm embrace and strength of character will keep them warm forever.
No one will ever forget the great Billy Johnston. May his soul pass on to the other side, where it can be reunited with all those he loved, and there await for us, so that we may see our beloved Billy once again. Rest in Peace, Billy.
Donations can be made on his behalf to The Lewy Body Dementia Association. A memorial celebration of his life will be announced in the months to come.
Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery and Mortuary


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Published in East Bay Times on Jan. 10, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
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January 11, 2021
I worked with Bill for many years in Alameda County. Always loved when he was assigned to the same courtroom because I knew the day would be made lighter with laughter because of Bill’s fabulous smile and wonderful sense of humor.
My husband and I looked forward to crossing paths with he and Gracie at our local movie theaters. I missed him when those crossings became a distant memory.
He was a good friend, kind and gracious.
His memory will live forever in our hearts
Yvonne and Barry Bazzell
Coworker
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