Roy C. Johnston, Ph.D., P.E.

December 22, 1930 ~ March 12, 2011

Roy C. Johnston, 80, a resident of Lake Charles, Louisiana since 1990 died on March 12 in his residence surrounded by his loving wife and children. He lost a short bout with pancreatic cancer.

He was born in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas to Roy C. and Irene Gass Johnston on December 22, 1930 preceding him in death. He thought himself lucky to have five wonderful sisters who kept him in line during his youth. In those days he was an extraordinary marbles shooter and pitched a wicked round-house curve ball.

He graduated from Texas A M University in 1957 with a B.S. and from Purdue University with an M.S. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1963 in Mechanical Engineering.

He worked in industry, government and education during his 40-year career as an engineer. At Texas Instruments and ARCO he was Senior Member of Technical Staff and Fellow, respectively. He specialized in developing low-frequency energy sources and techniques for marine petroleum seismic exploration that are still in use. At the Naval Research Lab he was responsible for a prototype high-powered sonar development for detecting enemy submarines at long distances. He holds 12 patents in this area, and scores of international patents, and was presented the Reginald Fessenden Award in 1998 by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists for an early patent on tuned energy-source arrays. Earlier at TI's Research Lab he was the mechanical engineer responsible for overall design of the first demonstration fuel cell system that utilized hydrocarbon as the fuel and air as the oxidizer without requiring expensive catalysts that was cited by the Smithsonian. He was Professor of Mechanical Engineering at McNeese State University for nearly 20 years, including Engineering Department Head for 8 years. He was, for several years, SW Louisiana Industries Endowed Professor and coordinator of numerous seminars and workshops, that helped forge better ties between industry and engineering education. He was Life Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and long time Faculty Advisor of the Student Section. In 1984 he received Big Brother of the year award of Dallas Big Brothers, remaining still a big brother to Stu Rowland, 3rd little brother.

He served in the Air Force over four years during the Korean War in the Air Defense Command including Thule, Greenland at 76 degrees North latitude, which he considered the most beautiful place on planet earth. Thule was on the shortest route between the Moscow and Washington DC. He served as a rated flying officer as what's now known as, Weapons System Officer on all-weather fighter-interceptor aircraft.

He loved the outdoors and enjoyed many camping and canoe trips throughout his life. Bird watching in his backyard brought him much delight as he kept records of their appearances over the years.

He played duplicate bridge at the Lake Charles Duplicate Bridge Club and leaves a family of friends who he loved to play and interact with. He was a long-time member of the Merry Mates Dance Club and in recent years joined the Bayou Writers Club enjoying the camaraderie there. He especially enjoyed Sunday dinners with the "gang".

He is survived by his loving wife, Cora Lee Miller Johnston of Lake Charles, his two children Glenn C. Johnston (wife, Alessandra) of Rio de Janeiro and Andrea L. Johnston of Richardson, TX, step-daughter Cecily Barnes (husband, Willie) Honolulu, grandson, Scott D. Johnston of Rio, step-granddaughters Shelley Dalton, Honolulu, Mercede Barnes, Lakewood, Ohio,. three great-grandchildren., sisters Nell Johnston of Greenville, Texas, Bettye Johnston Ice (husband, Lanny Ice) of Monahans, Texas and nine nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by sisters Maryanne Miller, Sarah Bickley and Dorothy Watkins.

His funeral will be held on Wednesday, March 16th at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 123 Sale St., at 11 AM, with Father Peter A. Cook officiating. Visitation will be on March 15 from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Church and continue on Wednesday from 10:00 until the start of the service. He will be interred in Consolata Cemetery immediately following the funeral under the direction of Johnson Funeral Home.

Pallbearers are Rick Goad, Dan Ice, Lanny Jr. Ice, Stu Rowland, John Swindle, Therrill Valentine, Steve Watkins and Tobby Watkins. Honorary pallbearers are Don Elfert, Fred Denny, Lanny Ice, Carroll Karkalits, William Kushner, Kirby Raymond, Fred Sahlmann and Harcourt Stebbins.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Dear Johnston Family,I'm so sorry to learn about Roy Johnston passing away. I knew him through Bayou Writers' Group and had the pleasure and honor of reading some of his writing. I know he wanted to record his stories for his family and grandchildren. Roy was always quiet during our meetings, but now and then we glimpsed his wonderful sense of humor. When he wasn't there, he was missed. I've sent a couple of pictures to you through his suddenlink email address. Please know that his gentle spirit touched me, and his presence in our group made a difference. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this sad time. ~jess

  2. To the Johnston Family,You have my deepest condolences on your loss. Dr. Johnston and myself crossed paths at McNeese Engineering School from 1989-92. I consider him the finest professor I encountered during my education years. Not just due to his knowledgebase but, because of his easy going demeanor. He never complained or castigate, just encouraged and guided you through the forest without you noticing him doing so. He was a great man. I feel I gained so much more than just facts noted in a textbook page by his teaching. He taught me patience and to allow for other ideas to be presented without judgement. We kept in contact via e-mail. Mainly forwarding jokes or cool gadgets, cars, or mechanical equipment. I will miss him. He never said anything about his illness but, I would not have expected him to do so.Again, Im so sorry for your Loss. Joe E. Churchman

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