Stanley ‘Jack’ Johnston of Melbourne Passes Away at Home on June 20 at Age 95

By  //  June 29, 2019

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Moved to Melbourne in 1984, Charter Member of the Suntree Country Club

Stanley Collingwood Johnston, known to everyone as Jack, a proud Marine and World War II veteran, a devoted family man who loved his country, his late wife, his large and adoring family, and many friends in equal measure, passed away at home on June 20, 2019.

He had legions of friends and was most certainly the life of the party.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Stanley Collingwood Johnston, known to everyone as Jack, a proud Marine and World War II veteran, a devoted family man who loved his country, his late wife, his large and adoring family, and many friends in equal measure, passed away at home on June 20, 2019.

Jack was born on April 29, 1924, in South Haven Michigan, the son of Laura Collingwood Johnston and renowned Michigan State University horticulturist Stanley Johnston.

He spent childhood watching his father cultivate fruit hybrids, among them the Haven peach varieties.

Stanley Johnston Sr. was the first farmer to realize the potential for commercial blueberry cultivation in Michigan and planted the first blueberry bushes in Michigan soil.

In 1942, Jack dropped out of Michigan State University to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, burning to fight in the Second World War. He served as a corporal in the Third Infantry and fought in Guam, Guadalcanal, Okinawa and Bougainville.

On Christmas Day, 1945, he returned home a meager 100 pounds and promptly re-enrolled at Michigan State, where he studied business and refined his skills as a first-class raconteur.

It was at Michigan State that he met his future wife, and the great love of his life, Marjorie (Maggie) Dunlap.

After marrying in 1950, Marge and Jack settled in his small hometown, population 6,000. Jack got busy pursuing the two career strains that defined his life: salesmanship and farming.

An agent for New York Life Insurance Company, Jack drove hundreds of thousands of miles a year to build an ever-growing clientele.

In 1972, Jack Johnston was the only NYLIC salesman hailing from such a small town to earn the distinction of Top Club President – the top seller of the year.

Most people in South Haven remember that without fail, every birthday Jack would send free ice cream soda cards to his clients’ children. The cards could be redeemed at the local soda fountain at MacDonald’s drug store.

While building up his life insurance business, Jack followed in his father’s footsteps and began farming, specifically blueberries. Unable to afford the land costs, in the 1950’s he acquired his first farm through a land lease.

Over the ’60s and ’70s, Jack amassed 3,000 acres total, with blueberry farms in South Haven and Grand Junction, Michigan, and North Carolina. He was one of the largest blueberry growers in the country at that time.

Jack was a founder of the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association, and one of many farmers who turned blueberry farming into the largest agribusiness in the state of Michigan.

He was an active member of the South Haven community, served on the board of directors of Citizens Trust and Savings Bank, and the South Haven Hospital.

A dynamic public speaker and larger-than-life personality, Jack traveled the United States throughout the 1970s and ’80s, giving motivational speeches at business conventions.

In 1984, Jack and Marge moved to Melbourne Florida. They were charter members of Suntree Country Club and grew to love their Florida community as much as the one they left behind in Michigan.

In 1984, Jack and Marge moved to Melbourne Florida. They were charter members of Suntree Country Club and grew to love their Florida community as much as the one they left behind in Michigan.

Jack was an avid boatsman. An ace golfer. A brilliant storyteller possessed of tremendous charm and wit. He was also a man of profound integrity whose example has illuminated the lives of his friends and family. A man who was always willing to lend a helping hand. Give the shirt off his back rank of generosity.

He had legions of friends and was most certainly the life of the party.

But first and foremost, he was a family man. He is survived and will be dearly missed by his children Susan Saewert (Tom), Charlie Johnston (Linda), Becky Johnston, Amy Peters (Chris), his eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

A service will be held at Suntree United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 29 at 1:30 p.m. followed by a reception at Suntree Country Club.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Jack’s name to Space Coast Honor Flight, P.O. Box 560975, Rockledge, FL 32956.

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