John Johnston, 1925-2021 | What’s new LaPorte?
John Johnston, 95, of Charlotte, North Carolina, died on May 25, 2021.
He was born on November 8, 1925 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, to Francis John and Catherine Reid (Stephenson) Johnston.
While a student, John expressed a desire to be a missionary in China, but the onset of World War II changed his plans. He joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 18 and soon after was selected to attend a top secret radar school. He spent the war maintaining airborne radars as the bombers set off night after night. When he was stationed in Hull, Yorkshire, he asked his next door neighbor to come out on his first date. It was the 17th birthday of his future wife, Valerie (McMillan) Johnston. They got married after the war.
After the war John embarked on a career that has been his lifelong passion, pressure sensitive duct tape. This career lasted 70 years until he finally took full retirement when his eyesight would not allow him to continue at the age of 94.
John’s talents as a researcher were recognized when he was recruited by Dr. William Scholl to join his research team at Arno Tapes in Michigan City, Ind. Dr. Scholl sponsored John’s family immigration to the United States in February 1959.
During John’s career, he became a prolific researcher, once developing 18 new tape products in 18 months. His career has grown as Vice President of Research and Development and then as a consultant in the tape industry around the world, including Germany, Canada, Mexico, Peru and China.
John holds several patents relating to the duct tape industry, including the one he was most proud of, Duct Tape. He is the author of the Tape Industry Handbook, “Pressure Sensitive Adhesives, A Guide to Their Function, Design, Manufacture and Use”. John is also the author of several chapters in other industry publications, as well as numerous articles related to the field. Numerous articles have been presented at national and international conferences. In 1973, he presented the first technical paper to a roundtable of his peers. This annual presentation is now known as the “John Johnston Adhesives Technology Session”.
In 1958, from the University of London, John obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, Physics, Pure Mathematics, and Applied Mathematics, with a degree in Nuclear Energy. His interest in education continued as he taught postwar elementary school and taught first and second year chemistry and creative thinking as an adjunct professor at Purdue University. John continued to teach not only in industry, but as a lecturer at the FBI Academy. He continued to consult with the FBI on difficult cases where the tapes were part of forensic evidence. The National Archives sought his expertise in the restoration of records damaged by tape.
John is the author of “Strong by Night, History and Memories of No. 149 (East India) Squadron, Royal Air Force, 1918 / 19-1937 / 56”. It is one of the squadrons he served in WWII.
John’s accomplishments include the War Medal 1939-1945 (UK), Defense Medal (UK), NASA consultant for adhesives used in the space program, Honorary Life Member of the Pressure Sensitive Tape Council of North America (1999), Man of the Year of the American Society of Conservators (2006), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pressure Sensitive Tape Council of North America (2006), the Regional Award from the American Academy of Forensic Science – Southwestern Association (2007) and the FBI Appreciation Award (2008 and 2012).
John surviving are his sons, Ian, Trevor and Alan; 10 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and 3 great-great-grandchildren, one of whom is on the way.
John was predeceased by his parents; brother; 5 sisters; wives, Valerie (McMillan) and Naruse (Hunsche); and a grandchild.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at noon on Saturday June 5 at the Cutler Funeral Home and Cremation Center, La Porte, Ind., With Pastor Rick Jones as an officer. Interment will follow at Pine Lake Cemetery, La Porte. Visitations will be held from 10 a.m. at the Saturday service at the funeral home.
Memorial donations can be made to the La Porte County Small Animal Shelter, 2855 W. Ind.2, La Porte, Ind. 46350.
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