WAUNETA -- James "Jim" W. Johnston, 86, died Friday (March 27, 2009) at Chase County Hospital in Imperial.
He was born Dec. 13, 1922, on his paternal grandparents' farm in Adair County, Ky., to Joshua T. and Bernace I. (Ferguson) Johnston. He grew up in Wauneta and McCook and graduated as valedictorian of the Wauneta High School class of 1941. He attended college before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corp., during World War II.
Following his basic training, he was assigned to duty with a machine gun squad in the 5th Marines. He participated in four campaigns, Eastern New Guinea, New Britian, 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. He was awarded the combat action ribbon, two purple hearts for wounds suffered in action and the Navy Commendation Medal.
After his service, he returned to Wauneta and married Elfrieda Nordhausen on Dec. 1, 1945. He drove truck and partnered with his father buying and selling war surplus goods and in leasing and exploration for oil and gas in Nebraska and Kentucky.
In 1963, he acquired his real estate broker's license and established Johnston Real Estate in Wauneta. He later became a licensed real estate appraiser and his son, Page joined him in the business in 1974. They were partners until his retirement in 1992.
He was a golfer and won many tournaments and considered pursuing the game professionally after receiving offers of sponsorship on the PGA tour.
After his retirement he wrote a book chronicling his time in the Marine Corps., titled "The Long Road of War. A Marine's Story of Pacific Combat," published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1998.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Sonny.
Survivors include his wife, Elfrieda of Wauneta; sons, Page, Joe and John Johnston, all of Wauneta; and four grandchildren.
The family will greet friends and relatives for a life celebration on Thursday from 2-4 p.m., at the Wauneta Senior Center.
A private family inurnment service will be at a later date.
Memorials may be given in his name.
Liewer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.