his Life

Jim was born in Denver, CO on July 24, 1934 to Jane McClure Johnstone and Don Johnstone. Both parents graduated from the University of Illinois.  Prior to her marriage, Jane taught physical education in the Decatur, Illinois public schools. Don initially worked in hydraulic engineering, which took them to New Jersey where Jim’s brother Robert was born in 1936. Jane was lost to a quick-acting lung cancer when the boys were 10 and 8.

Don and Bernetta Louisa Isbell married, having met during WWII in Washington DC where they both were serving in the Naval Reserve.  Bea (Bernetta) had taught at Wayland College in TX before becoming an officer in the WAVES.  After the war, Don’s civilian work took Bea and the boys to Mississippi, then Ohio, and then Los Alamos where he worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in Operations. Jim got five more siblings:  William, Donna, Barbara, Richard and Marjorie.

Jim graduated from Los Alamos High School with honors in 1951 and received the Southwest Regional Scholarship to Yale.  At Yale, he was on the staff of the Yale Daily News. Jim’s (forever) enthusiasm for baseball got this young sports reporter moved further away from the announcer’s microphone that was picking up his yells.  He graduated in 1955 and then served two years active duty as a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.  He shipped out of San Diego on the USS Stembel destroyer, patrolling islands off the coast of China and south of Japan.  He returned to Yale for his law degree, was on the board of directors of the Yale Law Journal, and graduated in 1960.

Jim worked in Washington, DC for the law firm of Kirkland Ellis for about 20 years and then for the firm of Wiley and Rain that was established in a reorg of Kirkland Ellis. Someone at the firm could better sum up his professional work; the family enjoys that he had something to do with ibuprofen, Fred Flintstone vitamins and those auctioneer-speed disclosures on TV for prescription drugs.  And Barbie (Mattel).  And asparagus--in the other Washington.  He did some work in private practice toward the end of his professional life that fit his strong concern for social justice, including helping argue against a death penalty and arguing appeals cases based on the racial injustice of differences in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine offenses.

Jim married Virginia Miller, a graduate of Smith College who was employed as a special education teacher by the Washington DC public schools. Jim and Ginny Johnstone have two children, Christopher M. Johnstone and Deborah M. Knott.  After Jim and Ginny divorced, Jim married Julie Ballard (Johnstone) in 1984.  Julie is the daughter of Eleanor E. Ballard and the late M.E. (“Ed”) Ballard.  Julie attended American College in Paris and then graduated from American University in DC with a degree in International Relations and Asian Studies.  Julie and Jim lived in DC, where he enjoyed tending his roses and grilling in the backyard.  He always loved trains and they took some big trips across the continent.  They also travelled internationally, including several trips to England and Scotland (the Johnstone roots) and to Norway (where his youngest sister, Marji, lives).  He enjoyed hanging out with Julie’s extended family and with his friends in DC and then for the last 15 years in Baltimore.  In DC, he was an active member of St. Albans Church for over 30 years, and he served as a warden there.