University of Texas
R. Bruce Johnston
February 1, 1922–June 11, 2012



R. Bruce Johnston

Bruce Johnston, 90, died on June 11, 2012. He was a loyal and fun loving husband, a wonderful father, a friend and advisor and dedicated teacher.

Bruce was born to Andrews Walfred and Mildred Richardson Johnston on Feb. 1, 1922, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. His siblings included brother, Richard W. Johnston and sister, Mary (1923–2010). Mary later married the brother of Bruce's wife, Peggy Payne. Mary is shown at right. The family soon moved to Graham, Texas. Bruce spent much of his time growing up in the outdoors. Joining the Boy Scouts, he earned the Eagle Scout award. He also learned to fish which became a lifetime passion.

In 1939, he graduated from Graham High School and enrolled in Texas Tech College in Lubbock, Texas, earning a BA in physics. He was a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity. Supporting the war effort in California, he installed electric wires in PT boats. Later, he returned to Texas and enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where he began work on a master's degree in physics.

While attending UT, he met Peggy Payne, and according to Bruce, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me." They married in Tyler, Texas, on Jan. 3, 1948. That same year Bruce completed his masters thesis, which was entitled, Spectral Sensitivity and Reproducibility as a Function of Source Excitation. After he finished his master's degree, they moved to Washington, D. C., where both worked at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. He did research for the Navy as a physicist and Peggy worked as a mathematician. They returned to Austin where Bruce earned his doctorate in physics in 1966, at the University of Texas. His dissertation was entitled, An Analog Computer for the Operation of Division. Bruce enjoyed a long and successful career as a physics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Southwest Texas State University, and St. Edwards University. Throughout his long life, Bruce had a passion for teaching college students, soldiers and high school teachers. He always had a sense of humor and an optimistic attitude. Bruce and Peggy had a passion for fishing, traveling and family gatherings. They visited many places in the world and fished in most of them.

The past four years, Bruce lived at the skilled Nursing Unit at the Plaza where he received devoted and compassionate care by the incredible staff to whom he and Peggy will always be so grateful.

Bruce is survived by his wife of 64 years, Peggy; his daughter Laura; son Douglas and wife Celia, and granddaughters Nicole and Jessica; son David and wife Sharon; David's children Travis, Graham and wife Nicki, great-grandson Henry; and Sharon's children, Lance and Mary Abby.



R. Bruce Johnston Photo Album

R. Bruce Johnston, Graham High School, yearbook, The Corral,1939, right end of second row from bottom.
R. Bruce Johnston, The Graham High School yearbook, The Corral, left end of back row in top left photo.
R. Bruce Johnston, Texas Tech, 1940, yearbook, La Ventana, Class Photo, second from right, third row from top.
R. Bruce Johnston, Texas Tech, yearbook, La Ventana, 1941, Class Photo, fourth from right, second row from bottom.
R. Bruce Johnston, Texas Tech, yearbook, La Ventana, 1941, Spanish Club, right end of econd row from top.
R. Bruce Johnston, Texas Tech, yearbook, La Ventana, 1940, Alpha Phi Omega, left end of bottom row.
R. Bruce Johnston, Texas Tech, yearbook, La Ventana, 1940, Spanish Club, right end in photo.
R. Bruce Johnston, Southwest Texas State University Physics Faculty, yearbook Pedagog, 1967, second from left.