Thomas was born Jan. 14, 1925 in the “Todd House,” in Jefferson, the only child of the late Ira T. Johnston and Mary Shull Johnston.
Thomas was a graduate of Jefferson High School at the age of 16, went on to attend “Old” Wake Forest College where he received an undergraduate degree in History and his Law Degree. His studies were interrupted by the war when he volunteered for the United States Air Force in the Aviation Cadet Corp and was stationed in Eagle Pass, Texas, between his undergraduate studies and his post graduate studies.
Thomas was a member of Kappa Alpha social fraternity at Wake Forest and a member of Phi Beta Phi scholastic achievement fraternity. Thomas was perhaps one of the longest and most avid supporters and a fan of Wake Forest University, the University proper, and especially all things athletic, best of all “football.”
Thomas enjoyed the practice of law, first with his father, Ira T. Johnston, for a sum of about 22 years and his father’s untimely death and then with his son, John, at Johnston and Johnston, for about four years until his health necessitated his early retirement.
He was a lifelong member of the Jefferson United Methodist Church where he taught Adult Sunday School for in excess of 25 years, was a member of Jefferson Rotary Club for 40 plus years, served as corporate attorney for Skyline Telephone Membership Corporation, was the Mayor for the Town of Jefferson, Ashe County Attorney, Jefferson Town Attorney, Ashe Federal Attorney, was a director on the board for Ashe Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Bank and First Union Bank and capped off his legal career by being inducted into the prestigious North Carolina General Practice Hall of Fame. He served as Ashe County Democratic Party Chairman for a term of 13 years wherein no locally contested election was lost to an opposition party, a feat that has not since been repeated.
Thomas enjoyed playing golf and won the club championship at the Mountain Aire Golf Club and passed along his love for the game as well as baseball, billiards, tennis, chess and cards to his three sons, Jeff, Mark, and John.
He especially enjoyed his Thursday night game of bridge with his card playing buddies, the late Dale Shepherd, the late Earl Hightower, and the late Dr. Dean C. Jones, Jr. who most assuredly, have a place in heaven at the card table set for dad upon his arrival. Billy Ramond Francis and Glen Hentchel, also Thursday night bridge playing buddies, will have a difficult time replacing this impressive group, but will now have a better chance at winning, inasmuch as daddy allowed that there was an unusual relationship between the winner and the one keeping score!
Thomas highest achievement in life, came not from his vocation, but from his marriage and lifelong devotion to his wife, Nancy Kennickell Johnston, who he met while she was working for her Aunt Stella Anderson at the Skyland Post in West Jefferson. They were married at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher on Aug. 21, 1948 and would have been married 62 years, had he not succumbed to his many illnesses at the age of 85.
Thomas truly would not have survived his many illnesses and ailments this long, if not for the tremendous love, care and efforts of his in home caregivers, Cindy Walker, Peggy Jones, Pat Taylor, Sarah Combs, Suzi Forrester, Sherri Saunders, Tammy Testerman and Melissa Zamora, Doctors Campbell, Kurtz, Bradley and Leonard and staff, Ashe Memorial Hospital and all the nurses, aides, respiratory therapists and our family’s personal angel, Daisy June Worth, who has been there for our family through every crisis, as well as our Pastor, Reverend Keith Franklin.
Thomas is survived by: his loving wife, Nancy Kennickell Johnston; his three sons, Jeffrey Allen Johnston and wife, Susan Sloan, of Clemmons, Thomas Mark Johnston and wife, Diane Wyatt, of Jefferson, and John Cooper Johnston and fiancé, Rachel King, of Jefferson; his grandson, Thomas Fredrick Johnston; and special friend, Margaret Ponce; and one great grandson, Samuel Thomas Johnston.
The family received family and friends from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8, at Boone Family Funeral Home, and a memorial service was held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9, at Jefferson United Methodist Church. Interment at Ashelawn Cemetery immediately followed the memorial services, the Rev. Keith Franklin officiating.
Donation may be made in lieu of flowers to the Jefferson United Methodist Church Discretionary Fund, PO Box 236, Jefferson, NC 28640 or the local charity of your choice.
You may give the family your condolences at our website located online at www.boonefuneralhome.com.
Boone Family Funeral Home of West Jefferson is in charge of these arrangements.