Obituary: Chester Johnston / PPG patent attorney and Oakmont leader

Died March 8, 2014

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Chester "Chick" Johnston was a man of few words. The Oakmont resident had a reputation for using words sparingly, making them all the more impactful when he did.

Mr. Johnston was a leader in the Oakmont community, serving as chairman of the Oakmont Water Authority Board for most of the 25 years he was a member. Under his leadership, he helped facilitate water line replacements for the community, upgrades to the treatment plant and added an extra step to the water cleansing process through ultraviolet purification.

He was also a key player on the Merger Study Team, which designed the plan to join Riverside Presbyterian Church and First United Presbyterian Church to form Oakmont Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Steve Wilson, senior pastor at Oakmont Presbyterian, said the move, on Oct. 2, 1994, was celebrated as one of the most constructive church mergers in Western Pennsylvania at the time, largely in part due to Mr. Johnston's leadership.

"Chick was an honorable, bright, soft-spoken man whose quiet faith led him to serve his church and community at critical junctures," Rev. Wilson said of the 77-year member of the congregation.

Mr. Johnston died Saturday at the age of 90.

Mark Gleeson, 86, knew Mr. Johnston for more than 50 years. The two met while working at Pittsburgh Plate Glass, where Mr. Johnston was a patent attorney. He said Mr. Johnston was known for his reliability, intelligence and cool head in difficult situations throughout his 40-year tenure at PPG.

"People who worked with him always knew that he never changed, never got upset and always smiled," Mr. Gleeson said.

His daughter, Judy Schwartz of Squirrel Hill, said her father had a personality that was the "polar opposite" of his bubbly, boisterous wife, Elizabeth Johnston, who died last year.

Not only was he a key part of the church baseball team's lineup, but he was also a trained artist. Last month, a collection of his paintings were featured in a display at Oakmont Carnegie Library.

He was also a veteran, having served as a military naval pilot toward the end of World War II.

Ms. Schwartz's most cherished memories of him, she said, are the family vacations in Cape May, N.J., every summer. The entire family would take a week and spend time on the coast.

"We had such great family memories there," she said. "He loved going so much, because we would all be together."

In addition to Ms. Schwartz, Mr. Johnston is survived by daughter Virginia Kostur of Weirton, W.Va.; sons Charles of Shaler and David of Reisterstown, Md.; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont handled arrangements.

Clarece Polke: cpolke@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1889.


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