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James “Jim” Johnston

Posted By Hall-Wynne On February 7, 2017 @ 11:17 am In Durham,Obituaries | 14 Comments

DURHAM – James “Jim” Johnston, 69, died Sunday, February 5, 2017 at Duke Medical Center. He was born in Davenport, Iowa on September 6, 1947 to the late Walter and Margaret B. Johnston. In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by his brother, Walter D Johnston.

Although born in Iowa, Jim grew up in Westchester county, N.Y. and graduated in 1965 from Fox Lane High school in Bedford, N.Y. After high school, he attended the University of Delaware and graduated in 1969.  After a brief stint as a high school math teacher in New Paltz, N.Y., Jim married his high school sweetheart, relocated to Durham and never looked back.  Once in Durham he chose to go on to law school and graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1975.  he opened his first law office in downtown Durham and had many fond memories of his first office in the old CCB building.

Always athletic, he enjoyed many sports including tennis, skiing and racquet ball in his younger days but in later years his greatest pleasure was playing golf. Any chance he could he was either on a local course or making numerous trips to Myrtle Beach with his friends to perfect his game. Perhaps his most memorable trip was to Pebble Beach to play the famous courses there.  Jim also enjoyed meeting new people to whom he was known as “J.J.” and he spent many a leisurely afternoon exchanging ideas and stories with them.

Jim is survived by his wife of 44 years, Margaret G. Johnston. He is also survived by his nephews, Anthony Johnston of Mt. Kisco N.Y. and Jordan Dropkin (Ashley) of Raleigh and by his niece, Evan Dropkin (Hugh) of Durham and his grandnephew Hugh Duck III.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:00AM Friday, February 10, 2017 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church with Fr. William McConville officiating. A reception will follow the Mass. Burial will be private in Maplewood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to Urban Ministries, 410 Liberty St. P.O. box 249, Durham, N C 27702, APS of Durham, 2117 E Club Blvd # 101, Durham, NC 27794 or a charity of one’s choosing.

The Johnston family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: www.hallwynne.com, select obituaries.

Condolences for the family of “James “Jim” Johnston”

Condolence from Bill Perkins on February 7th, 2017 4:20 pm

I will miss you and remember the fun times and trips. Fla, and Palm Springs highlight the many golfing trips along with playing several years at Croasdaile. Life is too short. Rest In Peace my friend.
Bill Perkins

Condolence from Guy Crabtree on February 7th, 2017 4:24 pm

Many fond memories of good times with Jim and Margaret:
trips to mountain ski resorts and tropical islands, racquetball (and beers) at MetroSport, , drinks after work , more than a few parties, cook-outs, playing cards, wind surfing, his car stuck in my front yard, watching a heavyweight championship fight that lasted about 30 seconds, adding an extension to the belt of his ski outfit so that he could get it closed, the battery charger he gave me over 25 years ago that I still use, practicing law together, much laughter and a few tears.
Jim and Margaret have been special people in and throughout my life.
I will always remember Jim with a smile.

Condolence from Gordon B. Herbert on February 7th, 2017 5:47 pm


We were so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing, and send our condolences. Jim was a fine gentleman, and I fondly remember our early days practicing law and visiting back and forth as we made our way in careers and life in Durham. I will miss him, and wish you all the best,


Condolence from Ray karaus on February 7th, 2017 8:35 pm

Margaret, we are so sad to hear this.

Condolence from M. Hughes on February 8th, 2017 8:31 am

I am very sorry for the loss of you loved one and offer my heartfelt sympathy. It’s never easy to accept the loss of our dear loved ones. May God provide comfort and peace to your family during this difficult time.

Condolence from Mike and Jill Pittman on February 8th, 2017 8:35 am

We so enjoyed the day we played golf with JJ several years ago. He always greeted us with a smile and brightened up our day when we saw him. He will truly be missed.

Condolence from Bobby Duncan on February 8th, 2017 9:50 am

We’ll miss you, Sympathy to your loved ones,

Condolence from John Zimmer on February 8th, 2017 12:38 pm

JJ will indeed be missed. Sorry for your loss.

Condolence from Rita McConnell on February 8th, 2017 5:56 pm

Margaret, Sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He always had a smile when coming into Colony Park.

Condolence from J. SMITH on February 9th, 2017 6:53 am


Condolence from Ruth Anne Kennedy on February 9th, 2017 11:01 am

Margaret, I am so sorry to hear of your husbands passing. Know you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Condolence from Greg Sims on February 10th, 2017 12:07 am

Jim is a very special guy, he could put a smile on your face no matter how bad the shot was! Easy going, always happy and a joy to be around, he will be missed and remembered always. Thanks for the great memories Jimbo!

I’m sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Condolence from Jane C. O’Brien on February 10th, 2017 3:57 pm

Dear Margaret, I was sadden when Guy told me of Jim’s death. I am so glad I got to see him in October. You two have been so much a part of our family over the years. What great memories we have. He and Jackie are hitting that golf ball all over heaven now.
My heartfelt blessings to you and family. My God wrap His loving arms around you and give you peace.


Condolence from Bob Poulson on September 22nd, 2017 6:12 am

Margaret: You have my sincere condolences on JJ’s passing, which I just learned about. We never met, but I heard about you from JJ. I was his college roommate — one year in the Sigma Nu frat house and two years in an apartment. Another UD friend, Fred Steier, told me he recently saw the notice in the Blue Hen magazine, which I don’t get. Coincidentally, Fred had just been talking to someone about JJ, as they had all gone to Woodstock together. I missed that trip, as I had just gone into the Navy. Don’t remember how JJ got out of that, but he was lucky he did. Although it didn’t work out badly for me — the Navy sent me to Japan, which I decided I liked, and I’m still there. Between being in the Navy and then Japan, I guess that’s how JJ and I fell out of touch, and never regained it. I would occasionally think about him, though, and I suppose he sometimes thought about me. We had good times together. I did try to find him on Facebook a few times, but with no success. I also told the other friend from UofD that I’m in touch with, Ken Morris, about JJ’s passing and he also said he was saddened by the news, as he had fond memories of JJ. He was in the Gilbert E dorm that all of us were in our freshman year.
Well, it’s a shock when you learn of your college roommate’s passing. I’m still in good health, though, in fact I’m a top age-group runner, so I hope to be around for a while yet. I hope you’re in good health, also. I live in Tokyo with my Japanese wife Eiko. We have one daughter, who now lives in Singapore. I was an advertising copywriter and am mostly retired, although I still do a bit of work. You have all my best wishes and again, my heartfelt condolences.

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