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James Otis Johnston, III


Johnston, James Otis III, 89, Born in St. Petersburg, Florida – August 12, 1931 and passed away in his sleep on February 8, 2021 of congestive heart failure. He was predeceased by his parents – James O Johnston Jr. and Zerma Martin Johnston, brother – Richard Walter Johnston.  He attended Pinellas Schools and graduated from St. Petersburg High School and St. Petersburg Junior College.   He continued his college education at the University of Tampa, was interrupted by his serving in the Army during the Korean Conflict stationed in Germany.In 1956 returned to the University of Tampa where he met his future wife, Iberia Roiz.  He received his Bachelors’ Degree in Music Education and started his teaching position at Disston Junior High that same year.  He built a very successful choral program that was compared to high school choruses.  He with William Branthoover, the instrumental director gave outstanding concerts.  In 1959 he married his sweetheart and enjoyed 61 years of marriage.  Jim transferred to Largo Hight School in 1963, and Mr.Branthoover followed in 1964.  They made an excellent team.  The team ended in 1965 when Mr. Branthoover suddenly died.Jim became a father to a son (James IV) in 1965 and a daughter (Elizabeth Ann) in 1967.  While teaching at Largo, he continued his studies and received his master degree from USF in 1971 in Choral Conducting.   He was very proud of all his students.   Over the years his choirs consistently made State Superior ratings.  He was also very proud of his Madrigal Singers who were in demand during the Holiday Season in the community; gave Madrigal Dinners, performed at the then Largo Renaissance Fair; in 1982 traveled to England and Scotland to perform.  His children grew up going to all the Largo concerts and insisted in attending Largo and performing their dad’s groups. Auditioned yearly and accepted to perform at Disney World’s Christmas Candlelight Concerts till 1985.   His students affectionately called him Mr. “J”. He Retired from Pinellas County Schools on October 6th, 1986.   In his early teaching years he was also a member of the Florida Suncoast Chorus and sang tenor in one of their quartets;Sang with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay since its inception and till the early nineties.   For many years he was a member of First Methodist Church of St. Petersburg, where he sang in the choir, was a tenor soloist, and subbed for the choir director.   In 1989 he joined the First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg and its choir.Later rang Handbells in the Chancel Handbell choir; few years later became its director; was asked to perform a special handbell piece with the Florida Orchestra.  He was also a memberof the Pinellas County Music Association and conducted choruses in several All-County High School Concerts; served as one of PCMEA’s presidents; member of the Florida Music Educators Association and served as a district director; member of The American Legion, Madeira Beach Post 273; and member of the Florida Retired Educators Association and its local chapter.  He loved his family; enjoyed traveling, especially to the Smokey Mountains; loved sporty cars – his baby was his red hard top Miata; pets – dogs and cats.  In his younger yeas enjoyed Bowling in the First Methodist bowling team and making one 300 game.   He was a history buff, a voracious reader of science fiction and many fiction and nonfiction books; his latest passion was building historical model ships, and modeltrains layouts.  He entered his first layout at H & R Trains and won the top prize.  He has left behind a heartbroken wife, Iberia Roiz Johnston – son, James IV, – daughter, Elizabeth Ann Rook (Alan) -granddaughters, Elise and Erin McGilvrey- and several paternal cousins.  He had a private family viewing at Veterans Funeral Care and graveside burial conducted by Pastor Lisa Degrenia held on February 12th,2021 at Park Memorial’s veteran location.  To keep friends and former students safe due to the pandemic, no announcements were made.  Those who want to honor James’ memory may send a gift to Suncoast Hospice.org.

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