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Born: Apr 12, 1930

Date of Passing: Oct 31, 2020

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April 12, 1930 - October 31, 2020

Peacefully at home, Ross died with his family by his side on October 31, 2020.
Ross was a cheerful, enthusiastic and active person. He would greet you at his door with a warm smile and offer you a cup of tea. He loved to chat, had a quick wit, and over the years his puns had "groan" on almost everyone!
Ross grew up in the West Broadway and Wolseley areas of Winnipeg, attending the old Mulvey and Gordon Bell schools. He sang in the All Saints Church Boys Choir and took part in Scouts and YMCA activities. High school summer jobs included swim supervisor at Camp Manitou, gardener at Brookside Cemetery and grass cutter at Kildonan Golf Course. During the great flood of 1950, he went out west to work as a gardener at the Banff Springs Hotel. Later, he joined the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, which enabled him to continue university.
In 1952, Ross graduated with a BA from United College, followed by a law degree from the University of Manitoba in 1956. He practiced law at the firm, then known as, Johnston, Jessiman and Gardner. Following private practice, Ross was the prothonotary of the Court of Queen's Bench, before serving as a Provincial Court Judge for 30 years.
Ross met Betty Jo on a badminton court, and they married in 1959. He loved her dearly, and would write odes and limericks to her on every birthday and anniversary. He was proud of his two daughters and two sons. Without a doubt, Ross was a dedicated family man. During dinner, he would want to hear about everyone's day. Ross ensured that the family spent lots of time together. In June, he loaded the station wagon bound for the cottage at Beaconia. There he wore his beach shirt and hat and loved giving his children wheelbarrow and dune buggy rides. In the winter, he would build a backyard toboggan slide and skating rink. Annual road trips to ski areas were very important to him.
Growing up during the depression influenced Ross. He established many university and college scholarships and bursaries, and he gave generously to countless other community causes and organizations. The Lions Club was a perfect match for Ross, with its "we serve" motto. He was an active member and club archivist for 60 years. He served as President, District Governor, and became the "First Director Emeritus of the Lions Club of Winnipeg". Ross was also a dedicated Freemason of 65 years. He received an honorary 33rd degree, and was a member of Assiniboine Lodge, Scottish Rite, Royal Order of Scotland, Khartum Shriners and Ritualistic Unit.
In retirement, Ross was always on the go. He chaired school reunions (high school, Arts, and Law) and continued his work with St. Andrews River Heights United Church, Lions Club, Camp Manitou, and Freemasons. Ross embraced yard work at home and the cottage. He was constantly writing newsletter articles, reports, speeches, and poetry, always with the news or Turner Classic Movies on in the background. He loved sweets, the symphony, theatre, art, watching football and curling on tv, roller coasters (until age 85), playing bridge and cribbage. He enjoyed annual Florida trips, bringing back an assortment of flea-market gifts, which led to the notorious family Florida Night!
Ross will be remembered as a kind and loyal friend.
Ross is predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Betty Jo (Ball) and parents, Pauline (Adair) and Percy Johnston. He leaves behind his children, Allison (Ken Koots), Brian (Penny Blatz), Grant, and Gail (Greg Bieber); grandchildren, Kelvin, Simon, Abby, Sofia, Rebecca, and Natasha; and brother-in-law Bruce Ball (late Barbara); extended family and friends.
The family wishes to deeply thank Elena, Lynette, Linda, Jeriline, Elna and Rose for their compassionate care and friendship.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving a donation to one of the organizations that Ross supported.
Interment at Elmwood Cemetery.
A Celebration of Life will be planned for a later date.


As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 07, 2020

Condolences & Memories (4 entries)

  • I was deeply saddened to learn of Ross's passing. He was a "uniter" in every sense of the word, with the gift of bringing people together. We were both members of the class of '52 at United College, now the University of Winnipeg, and Ross, with his wonderful, quirky humour, has facilitated and chaired several of our reunions through the years. Generosity was at his core; he was, quite simply, a remarkably fine human being. Thank you my friend. - Posted by: Mildred Harper (Friend) on: Jan 03, 2021

  • For at least 30 years, Ross and Betty Jo met monthly with Don and Joanne Brock for what always proved to be a most enjoyable, entertaining evening creating fond memories for all. Ross kept everyone laughing with his roller coaster adventures and his love of the hunt searching for the perfect piece of fiesta ware. Always with a project on the go, Ross approached each task methodically with the end result being perfection. Ross and Betty Jo were of unquestionable integrity and offered loving support during times of sadness and were always among the first with offers of help. It is no surprise Allison, Brian, Grant and Gail are loving and such caring individuals. Our thoughts are with you all. Joanne, Marie, Madeleine and Jim Brock (and Don and Christopher in spirit). - Posted by: Joanne Brock (Family Friend) on: Nov 12, 2020

  • Very sorry to hear of Ross's passing. He and Betty Jo were such wonderful friends with my parents Colleen and Vincent Horbay. Great memories from over the years. My Mom Colleen just passed in September - I feel sure they are altogether in heaven having a good catch up and smiling down on us all. Take care - Mary-Lea - Posted by: The Horbay Family (Family Friend) on: Nov 08, 2020

  • I had the privilege of meeting Ross Johnston when I joined the Lions Club of Winnipeg in 1977. I last saw him when I spoke to the Club around 2010. Throughout the entire time, I always enjoyed his intelligent and humorous comments on many different topics. What a loss. I hope the many happy memories his friends and family have will comfort them during this sad and difficult time. R.I.P. my friend. - Posted by: Bill Stevens (Friend) on: Nov 07, 2020

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