James Johnston - April 09, 2009
James W. Johnston was born Dec. 13, 1922, on his paternal grandparents’ farm in Adair County, Kentucky. He was the youngest of two sons born to Joshua T. Johnston and Bernace I. (Ferguson) Johnston.
Jim was raised in Wauneta, Neb., (The family did live for a brief time in McCook.) He was valedictorian of the Wauneta High School graduating class of 1941. Jim took some college coursework, but following the outbreak of World War II he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
Following his basic training he was assigned to duty with a machine gun squad in the 5th Marines. Jim participated in four campaigns: Eastern New Guinea New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa. He was made a machine gun section leader prior to the battle for Okinawa and he and his men were part of the assault wave in that campaign. Jim was awarded the combat action ribbon, two purple hearts for wounds suffered in action and the Navy Commendation Medal.
At war’s end Jim returned to Wauneta and married his sweetheart and the love of his life, Elfrieda Nordhausen, on Dec. 1, 1945. They had three sons: Page, John and Joe.
For a few years after the war Jim worked at several endeavors. He drove a truck for a time. He also partnered with his father buying and selling war surplus goods and in leasing and exploration for oil and gas, both in Nebraska and Kentucky.
In 1963 Jim acquired his real estate broker’s license and established Johnston Real Estate in Wauneta. He later became licensed as a real estate appraiser, and his son, Page, joined him in the business in 1974. They were partners until Jim’s retirement in 1992.
Jim was an outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish, and he was an accomplished golfer. He won many tournaments in his younger days, and gave serious consideration to pursing the game professionally, having received offers of sponsorship on the PGA tour.
After his retirement from business, Jim wrote a book chronicling his time in the Marine Corps. It was entitled “The Long Road of War: A Marine’s Story of Pacific Combat” and was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1998.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and by his beloved older brother, Sonny, killed in a tragic accident at the age of 14.
He is survived by his wife and his sons, all of Wauneta; by his granddaughters Amanda and Emily and by his grandsons, Alex and Joshua.
Jim passed away Friday evening, March 27, 2009, at the Chase County Community Hospital, in Imperial. He was 86 years of age.
The Johnston family will greet and receive relatives and friends for a life celebration on Thursday, April 2, 2009, from 2-4 p.m. at the Wauneta Senior Center in Wauneta.
A private family inurnment service will be held at a later date.
A memorial has been established in Jim’s memory.
Liewer Funeral Home of Wauneta is in charge of arrangements.