School 29

Robert Blaine Johnston

February 3, 1949 ~ July 10, 2020 (age 71)





Robert Blaine Johnston (Bob)  February 3, 1949 to July 10, 2020

The world lost a gifted storyteller last week. Bob was known to so many as BJ, Little Bobby J, Uncle Bob, Mr. J, Dad and Grampa.  It is with heavy hearts that we announce his passing of pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.    

Many people were lucky enough to have known Bob.

If you were lucky enough to have known him as a child you would find him up climbing a tree, in the deepest puddles, walking the beach looking for a pull on his water ski or chasing a flock of geese.  Bob was born on February 3, 1949 to parents Jean (Kirk) and Robert Frank Johnston.  He was the much younger brother (4 years -  longest running joke) to sister Elaine Saskiw.  He grew up in Oyen, Mayerthorpe, Vilna and Coronation where his father worked for the TD bank.  Bob spent every summer at Muriel Lake since he was 12 years old.  His heart and spirit flows through the waves and streams of Muriel Lake.  He created rock walls, a rock outhouse, bridges, ponds with waterfalls, a ball diamond, a putting green, and most importantly, a real warm and welcoming environment for friends and family to cherish and enjoy.

If you were lucky enough to have known Bob as part of your family, you knew you were treated with kindness and the deepest love. Bob met his wife of almost 50 years at the U of A, Sharon James.   They were married on October 10, 1970.   Sharon and Bob loved to dance at weddings and family gatherings. Both educators, they had a shared passion for teaching. Their creative interests complimented each other as Sharon would add her artistic opinions to Bob’s wood projects and Bob was Sharon’s biggest fan of her paintings. As a father, Bob had enormous love for his children Heidi and Ben. He was so proud of his children, shown by his interest and time spent with them in sports facilities, on family vacations and at the Lake. The family grew over the years and he extended his love to Kevin (Heidi) and Krystal (Ben). When grandchildren came, it surely was one of his greatest joys of his life. His happiest smiles are in pictures with Ella, Andrew, Max and/or Marley on his knee, neck, or shoulders.  Catching fish (his loonie generator), bean bag tourney’s, quad rides and water fights are memories they will hold onto for a lifetime.   It could be said that the greatest blessings in his life called him “Gramps;” and he loved them to pieces. 

If you were lucky enough to have known him as a dear friend you loved sharing laughs, moments together fishing, hunting, golfing, mountain and canoe trips and working with wood. You were always invited in for a visit and a game of crib or smear and maybe a drink or two.  He cherished social times with all his friends.  Bob had many circles of friends that cared so deeply for him: his Muriel Lake family, his moose camp buddies, his Rimbey coffee group, his hockey draft pals and his fishing/canoeing buddies.    You could count on him for a great joke, prank and anything to get a laugh or embellish the story -  it's amazing that he continued to play the hero of every tall tale.

If you were lucky enough to have known him as a student or colleague you knew you mattered and were important, you were treated with grace and offered a listening ear.  He would have shared his love of reading with you.   He would have instilled an increased appreciation of our war veterans through his passion for the school Remembrance Day assemblies.  Bob started his teaching career in Smith, Alberta in 1972 later moving to Rimbey where he taught and was the Principal at Rimbey Junior Senior High school from 1979- 2004.   His career brought him much joy.  He believed in public education - Wolf Creek School Division, his staff and his students.  

If you were lucky enough to have known him as a community member you knew he spoke with integrity, believed there was “nothing we can’t handle” and wanted what was best for the community, always.  He spent countless hours in Arenas around Alberta coaching, encouraging and cheering on his favorite local players and teams. He was proud of Rimbey and belonged to many community organizations including the Hospital board, Kinsmen, the Rimbey Curling Club and continuing education. Rimbey people were his kind of people. 

If you were lucky enough to learn from Bob, you would know the value of your word.  You will have learned the importance of treating people with kindness and offering friendship for a lifetime.  You would have felt important in your conversations and that you really mattered to him.   You would know how to catch a fish, in golf you kept your head down and followed through.   In hockey he would tell you to “read the ice” and be aggressive.  You would say “please and thank you”,  have a firm handshake and know how to tie a tie.  You would have heard one of his numerous sayings that he was so famous for “Too soon old - too late smart” or “Good looking, but not too bright..”  Bob offered so much to so many.  We are forever grateful and will hold onto these memories and cherish them.

We are lucky enough to honor Bob’s life in the best way possible  - we can live each day like Bob would have.  We make people feel like they matter.  We treat people with kindness and love.  We speak with integrity.  We meet at the dinner table to discuss, share or even debate.  We cherish our time with our family and dear friends.  If a friend stops in,  we welcome them and offer them a drink.  If you were lucky enough to have known Bob Johnston, then you were surely lucky enough.  

We leave you with Bob’s words, “I love you to pieces.”


On July 10, 2020 Robert Blaine Johnston (Bob, BJ) of Rimbey, Alberta  passed away at the age of 71 years of pancreatic cancer.  He leaves his wife Sharon (nee James), his children Heidi (Kevin Tennant) and Ben (Krystal Hebert).  His four grandchildren - Ella & Andrew Tennant, Max & Marley Johnton - will miss him everyday.   He is survived by his sister, Elaine (and Nestor Saskiw), his brother-in-laws: Robert, Dale (Betty) and Douglas James. 

Bob’s career in Education as a teacher and a principal was a perfect fit for his personality of caring, enjoying humour, optimism and only seeing the best in people.

Bob was fortunate to have strong, warm connections with all members of his extended family. A chance to come together was always a priority which allowed him the opportunity to share stories of life experiences.

He established many firm, committed and loving friendships throughout his life that he  valued immensely. He had the  gift of touching one's  heart forever.

There will be no service due to Covid Limitations.  Family and friends will gather at Bob’s  special place, Muriel Lake, to celebrate his life.  In lieu of flowers, Bob's request was that people consider making a donation to  the Stollery Children’s Hospital or a charity of your choice. 



No services to be held


Stollery Children's Hospital
1502 Collge Plaza, 8215-112 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2C8,

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