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Obituary of Robert Bruce Johnston
Robert Bruce Johnston, 83, of Chicago and more recently, Tucson, passed unexpectedly on January 22, 2023 and is now in the hands of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was born on October 16, 1939 in Philadelphia to Dr. Robert and Mary Johnston, the eldest of four sons.
Bruce led an amazing and adventurous life. He was an Eagle Scout and active in sports including football, wrestling and skiing while growing up in Denver. He attended the University of Colorado and was an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. At CU Bruce met and fell in love with Marilynn Thompson, whom he affectionately called “Pooh,” his wife of 62 years. Bruce graduated in 1963 with a degree in architecture.
Bruce was an accomplished architect, beginning his early career with Del Webb in Phoenix, and finished as owner of his own firm of nearly 40 years in Chicago, before retiring to Tucson. Although he worked in all areas of commercial and residential architecture, his passion and specialty was custom homes. His work can be found all over the US and in a few countries abroad. What made him such a dynamic architect was his ability to take client’s visions and desires and convert them into their magnificent dream homes. He was a gifted designer with incredible vision. Over his lifetime, he won numerous awards for his work, none more rewarding to him than his satisfied clients.
Bruce had many hobbies; reading, golfing, building stereos, photography, Porsches, traveling, scotch, crossword puzzles, computers and fixing up his house. There was not much he could not do. Bruce loved the Arts. He was a talented artist, especially painting. He was a musician, playing the clarinet, flute and saxophone, but his real passion was listening to music. Anyone that visited his home was often greeted with a loud stereo that easily could have served duty in a concert hall. Jazz was his go-to, classical a close second, but he also loved classic rock and Pink Floyd. Attending symphonies throughout his life brought him great joy. He used music to bridge the gap of generations for all of us.
For much of his life, sailing was Bruce’s favorite pastime. He owned several different sailboats and raced in regattas all over the country including SORCs, J24 championships, and Chicago to Mackinac Races of which he won in 1981. His experience on the water also landed him several positions with Wilmette Harbor Association and Sheridan Shore Yacht Club, where he was Commodore. In addition to his love of being on the water, Bruce earned his pilots license. He and Marilynn enjoyed sightseeing together above the midwestern landscape.
Bruce had a heart for helping others and many would turn to him for assistance. With his work ethic and can-do attitude, his mantra was “there is always a solution to any situation and you just have to work to figure it out.” He loved spending time with his family near and far, helping them and mentoring them to have the same attitude. Later in life, he showed us all his ability to find solutions to everything when he was challenged with losing a leg, chronic health issues and insistent pain. He didn’t let these ailments be a burden on anybody and worked tirelessly to overcome these challenges. His positive attitude was remarkable, inspirational and a virtue we will always carry with us.
Bruce, also known as Bru Bru by his grandchildren, will be remembered for his strength, courage, integrity, intelligence, creativity, belief that there is good in everyone, determination, selflessness, honesty, grace, faith, loyalty, quick wit and sense of humor, but most of all his love for everyone. Once you knew Bruce, you knew you were loved by him and that he would always be there for you. He will be missed by everyone near and far, but, we are comforted knowing he is enjoying the great gig in the sky!
Bruce is preceded in death by his parents Robert Parlee Johnston and Mary Grace Johnston (Reid), and a baby brother. He is survived by Marilynn (Thompson), his son Mike (Kelly North), daughter Shelly Tanner (Alan), grandchildren Kelsey (Ryan Becksfort), Kristine Johnston, Kolby Johnston, Kenna Johnston, Ryan Tanner, Dana Tanner, and great grandchildren Colton and Marleigh Becksfort. He is also survived by his brothers Craig, Dan (Margy), Jim (Amy), cousin Joan Reid, numerous nieces and nephews, and great friends all over the country!
A Celebration of Life is being planned and will take place in Tucson on June 17, 2023.
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