Dr. James's Story

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Dr. James D. Johnston, 89, of Traverse City, passed away Feb. 19, 2018 with his wife and children by his side. Jim was born Nov. 18, 1928 to the late Joyce and Clara (Jones) in Norway, Michigan.
He was a significant leader in the medical community. He created Kids Creek Children's Clinic in 1962. He was elected as president of the Tri-County Medical Society. He served as chief of pediatrics and chief of hospital staff for many years.
He served on the Munson Medical Center Board of Directors for 20 years, was elected as chairman of the board 1989 to 1991 and served as vice chairman and treasurer. He also served on the Munson Healthcare Board of Directors for many years. He was bestowed the honor of James Decker Munson Fellow in 2000. His greatest professional legacy remains his leadership in establishing the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Munson in 1972. One of the first in the country for a regional hospital, this unit dramatically dropped the infant mortality rate in Northern Michigan, which today remains lower than the state average.
He passed along many life enhancing skills and the love for the outdoors to his sons, as he approached everything he did with the heart of a child and the eye of a scientist, mastering each endeavor. He was an avid fly fisherman, with knowledge of fish biology, river hydrology and bug entomology. He enjoyed downhill skiing, especially at Snowmass in Colorado. He also competed internationally in flying radio controlled sail planes. He is one of only 136 flyers in the world to achieve the Level V designation by the League of Silent Flight.
He was a Michigan man, earning both his bachelor's degree and M.D. from the University of Michigan. This is a four generation legacy that started with his mother, who taught at the university, through his children and to one of his grandchildren. He played baseball for both Arizona State University and Michigan.
Surviving Jim, and missing him dearly, are his wife, Sandy; sons, David (Jan), Richard (Shannon), Michael (Diane) and Paul (Shana); nine grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Alan.
Visitation will take place Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A funeral service will take place Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, at 11 a.m., also at the funeral home, with visitation one hour prior. Jim's final resting place will be Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing an expression of sympathy may consider contributions in Jim's honor to the Munson Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Gifts may be mailed to the Munson Healthcare Foundation, 1150 Medical Campus Dr., Traverse City, MI 49684 or via phone by calling (231) 935-6482.
Please visit www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com to share your condolences and memories with Jim's family on his tribute page.
The family is being cared for by the Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
Published on February 22, 2018
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