Forest Grove's Tom Johnston dies of leukemia
Forest Grove lost a prominent community member Monday, Oct. 14, as City Council President Tom Johnston died after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
"There is a void in our lives this morning," said Mayor Peter Truax in a statement. "TJ supplied the council and the city with guidance and advice, often building bridges of compromise so that everyone could feel she or he was part of the process. We have lost a colleague; more importantly, we have lost a dear, dear friend."
Johnston was on his annual trip to the central Oregon Cascades this summer when he experienced some shortness of breath, according to a statement from the city of Forest Grove. He cut his vacation short to seek medical advice. During follow-up testing, the leukemia was discovered.
"He underwent treatment for approximately two months before making the decision late last week to go into hospice care," the city's statement announcing his death read in part. "He died at home, surrounded by family and friends."
Johnston, who was 73, was a longtime resident of Washington County. He grew up in the Gales Creek area and graduated from Forest Grove High School in 1964.
He served as a reserve officer for the Forest Grove Police Association in 1968 and then was hired as a full-time patrolman in 1971 after graduating from Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton with an associate's degree in police science. He was also a volunteer firefighter at the Forest Grove Fire Department and a reserve officer in Pendleton.
Johnston was a police officer for nearly 30 years, retiring on July 12, 2001, after serving as a sergeant for nearly 20 years. After his retirement, Johnston worked as an attendance monitor at Forest Grove High School.
Johnston's civil service didn't start and end at the police department. He was student body president at Blue Mountain Community College. After he retired from the force, he served as a city councilor in Forest Grove for 17 years and was city council president since 2009.
His public service went beyond the City Council as well. TJ was active in the League of Oregon Cities, having served on numerous committees. He also represented the city's interests as a board member on the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency for over a decade. He was appointed by the governor to work on the State Interoperability Executive Council, which facilitates coordinated emergency communications across Oregon.
Johnston was a longtime member of St. Anthony's Catholic Church and also belonged to numerous social clubs and fraternal organizations.
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