Norman Paul Johnston

April 5, 1941 — January 16, 2015

Norman Paul Johnston

Norman Paul Johnstona€"a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, humanitarian, and frienda€"passed away on Friday, January 16th. He will be greatly missed. The third child of Norman Johnston and Olivia Wilsona€"Paul was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 5th 1941. From an early age, Paul had a natural love of learning, athletics, and travel. These loves were carried throughout his life in a variety professional, academic, and community service endeavors. During high school, he ran track at Olympus High and worked with his father at Brookfielda€"a feed manufacturer. After graduating, Paul served in the Franco-Belgium mission. He fell in love with the people and food. It was there he developed his love of bread and cheese, something he would have had for every meal had prudence allowed. One of his fun experiences from the mission was playing football at Versailles, something he assured us King Louis XVI would have approved. At the end of his mission, he bought a new Volkswagen Beatle, toured Europe and shipped it home. He received a Bachelor of Science at Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah, which he hoped would prepare him for a career in business. After his MBA, he decided he was still not yet done with school. This time, he pursued a PhD in Animal Nutrition at Oregon State University. Just before moving to Oregon he met and married Irene Hiller, a happy, and energetic young woman who frequented his same circle of friends. Irene took the first step, making him a lemon meringue pie. He fell in love at first bite. It was in Oregon that Paul and Irene had their first childa€"Julie. After graduating from Oregon State, Paul decided he wanted another degree, this time in dentistry. After careful consideration with his wife, she helped him see that four degrees was probably enough and that he could satisfy his hunger for learning by going back to school as a teacher instead as a student. He applied and received a position at Brigham Young University, where he spent the rest of his 42-year career teaching, researching, consulting, and administering. Paul focused on applied research and teachinga€"seeking practical solutions to alleviate hardships surrounding hunger and malnutrition around the world. He co-founded and led the Ezra Taft Benson Food and Agricultural Institute, a small-scale self-reliant agriculture program that helped farmers of impoverished nations improve their yields. With time, his attention shifted to working with NGOs and students to find simple solutions to combat malnourishment and its debilitating effects in both Africa and South America. Whether it was encouraging the use of local, nutritious crops or building small, personalized gardens for school children, he had a deep and abiding desire to help improve others' lots in life, especially those who suffered the most and had the least. This loving concern was contagious, He easily found many willing students to participate in this work as they saw all the good he was doing. One such student, commented that the "best word to describe Dr. Johnston is KIND." All those who knew him shared this same sentiment. Paul was the father of six children, two girls and four boys. They all loved him and received his love and support in thoughtful, personalized waysa€"like writing papers, preparing science projects, attending their sporting events, and taking them camping. He also took every opportunity possible to involve his kids in his international travel. He took Irene and the six kids to Ecuador where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Of course, the kids did not understand what a Fullbright Scholar was at the time. They were just happy he would take them to a place with monkeys, tarantulas, and jungle vines. This was just one of many trips around the world he would take the kids. These were usually done individually, one kid at a time, giving him and them a chance to bond and experience new cultures, places, and foods together. Paul loved the Lord. He had a firm testimony of the gospel and sought to live by its principles each and every day. His parents, who he greatly missed, preceded him in death. He is now with them enjoying their company and love. A funeral honoring his life will be held on January 24th at 11:00am at the Lindon Utah Central Stake chapel, located at 56 East 600 North Lindon, Utah. A viewing will be held prior to the funeral services from 9:30am to 10:45am. Online condolences or memories of Paul are welcomed at pauljohnstonfamily@gmail.com.
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