Cover photo for James Michael Johnston's Obituary
James Michael Johnston Profile Photo
1943 James 2021

James Michael Johnston

February 18, 1943 — June 13, 2021



                                James Michael Johnston

                         February 18, 1943 - June 13, 2021


Jim passed away on June 13, 2021 at Silverado Memory Care, his wife Judy by his side. He spent several years battling dementia.


Jim was born to Thelma and Jerry Johnston in Arlington, WA. He graduated from Marysville High School, in 1961, later earning a BS and an MA in Fisheries Biology from the University of Washington.

In 1967 he married Judy Tucker, his high school sweetheart.


Jim joined the Navy in 1966 where he served as navigator and personnel officer aboard the Destroyer Tender, USS Dixie. He was honorably discharged in 1971 with the rank of Lt. JG, and considered “one of the top few” in all fitness reports. Subsequent to his discharge, he obtained a job at the Cultus Lake Research lab working for the International Pacific Salmon Commission at Cultus Lake, BC. Later, he began his 30 year career with the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department, starting with research in the high lakes of the Olympic Mountains as well as work on lowland lakes on the Olympia Peninsula. He rose through the ranks of the department to become the Assistant Director, but was happiest in the field, including surveying high lakes in the Cascade Mountains and managing lowland lakes in Whatcom, Island and Skagit Counties. Ever the Mountain Man, to Jim a trail was “just a suggestion.” He was delighted to have a profession that included helicopter transport into the mountains, where he would be dropped off for days of camping and fishing to gather his research specimens.  What a life!


During these years, Jim was very active with sports fishermen around the state, especially fly-fishing clubs where he was often asked to speak.  He was also president of the international chapter of the American Fish Society where he worked closely with The Canadian chapter.


Upon retirement, Jim and Judy moved to beautiful Big Bar Lake, BC, built a home and lived there for 10 happy years, returning to Bellingham in 2010.


Jim was known as the consummate fly-fisherman, tying his own coveted flies.  He was also a wonderful photographer and wood worker. Over the years, he and his family enjoyed many outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, fishing and cross-country skiing as well as trips to the Oregon coast and the interior of B.C., Canada. Along with local fly fishermen, Jim often headed to Canada to fish, joining them in telling tale tales of the many whoppers caught and the one that managed to get away.


Jim is preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law Larry Richardson. He is survived by his wife of 54 years Judy; son, David H. Johnston; daughter-in-law Moriah Salter; daughter, Laura E. Johnston; grandchildren, Kaila Salter-Johnston and Henry Salter-Johnston


A family gathering to celebrate Jim’s life is scheduled for May 29, 2022.   Donations in Jim’s memory made to Alzheimer’s Research would be welcomed. Many thanks to all those who supported Jim along his journey.    

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Michael Johnston, please visit our flower store.


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