Burrell Dean Johnston Jr., 84, Captain. USNR, JAG Corps, Retired, passed away unexpectedly at Westminster on October 15, 2018, where he had been receiving PT and OT for some recent health setbacks.
Burrell was born on June 3, 1934, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Burrell Dean Johnston Sr. and Nancy Marie Ward. Burrell attended public schools and Little Rock High School where he joined the P.I.E. fraternity. Those early friendships lasted his entire lifetime and he continued to keep in touch and see them at their P.I.E. meetings. Burrell excelled in many sports, running track and field, diving, and swimming where he held several state records in his youth. Prior to his senior year, his mother relocated the family to San Jose, California, where Burrell would graduate from Lincoln High School in 1952.
Burrell attended Vanderbilt University where he was affiliated with Kappa Sigma fraternity before joining the Naval Flight Program. He trained at Pensacola, Florida and was then stationed at Chase Air Field in Beeville, Texas. Upon completion of training he was assigned to Flight Squadron VF-193 aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard in the Western Pacific. As a Naval Fighter Pilot he mainly flew the F-4 Phantom II.
In 1957, by a chance encounter at a dance at the Beeville Country Club, Burrell met the young, outgoing, beautiful UT co-ed Karen McKinney. This chance meeting ignited a five-year long distance courtship. This was the beginning of a life long love affair and partnership that lasted more than 61 years.
Upon completion of his active duty Burrell transferred to the Naval Reserves. In January of 1962, Burrell and Karen were married in Reno, Nevada, before relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area. Burrell completed his economics degree and Karen taught school. In typical Burrell fashion he met and made many life long friends that remained throughout the rest of his life.
The good news of expecting their first child prompted a move back to Texas in March 1963. Pulling a U-Haul, a young Burrell and a very pregnant Karen, not to mention a howling dachshund (Burgie) arrived in Beeville in late March. Their first daughter Anne Elizabeth "Libby" was born in Beeville in April 1963. Burrell would often tell the story of how Dr. Miller allowed him to be in the delivery room, very unusual in those days.
By summer it was time for the young family to set off on their next adventure, which meant moving to Austin. Burrell entered the University of Texas School of Law in August 1963. Burrell was admitted to the Texas State Bar on September 14, 1966, and after graduation Burrell changed his assignation from aviator to JAG Officer. He served in numerous activities until he was assigned to Desert Storm as a Judge. He retired from the U.S. Navy JAG Corp, USNR, as a Captain.
In 1967 the couple joyously celebrated the great news they were expecting a second child. Anna Lisa was born in May 1967 at St. David's Hospital.
In the early years while practicing law, he was on the faculty at St. Edwards University as an assistant professor of Economics, focusing on economic structures of South American Countries. He later served as general counsel to the Texas Partners of the Americas as well as President. Through these positions he was able to travel extensively to many Central and South American Countries. This experience segued to Burrell serving as President of the International Hospitality Council Committee, based at The University of Texas.
In the early years Burrell and Karen made the wise decision to purchase the Chancellor's Building on Nueces where Burrell would practice law for the next 48 years. Burrell practiced in the Texas Courts and Federal Courts, primarily in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and had two cases heard before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Burrell served on many boards. After serving on the Travis County Child Welfare Board and the Regional Welfare Board, Burrell was appointed to the Texas State Advisory Committee for the Department of Human Services. Burrell and Karen co-founded and secured the financing for the Austin Children's Shelter, now known as The SAFE Children's Shelter. Additionally Burrell served on the American Heart Association Board for the State of Texas and the Health South Board.
Burrell and Karen were early fundraisers for KLRU. They were co-chairs for the Waterloo Festivals and members of the Las Amigas de Acapulco. They co-hosted many fine wine dinners for numerous charitable events. They were also members of the English Speaking Union in Austin and members of the Army Navy Club in Washington D.C. They belonged to the Argyle Club of San Antonio, The Headliner's Club and Westwood Country Club of Austin, where he was an avid tennis player.
Burrell was a long time member of the Admiral's Club. Burrell was a Chevalier in the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (an exclusive bacchanalian fraternity of Burgundy wine enthusiasts). Burrell was a member of the Bachelor's Club of Little Rock, and The General Assembly of Austin. Burrell was also a member of the Knights of the Templar, The Tailhook Association, The Quiet Birdmen, The Order of the Caribou, and The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John. He was also a proud member of the Knights of the Symphony, joining in 1975 and bestowed the honor of King Brio XXXIX.
Burrell joined the Austin Symphony Board of Directors in 1974 and served on the Executive Committee from 1976-2011. He continued to serve on the Board of Directors until he retired in 2017 as a Director Emeritus.
Burrell was preceded in death by his loving wife, Karen McKinney Johnston, his father, Burrell D. Johnston Sr., of Memphis, TN, his mother Nancy Marie Wiggins and her husband William P. Wiggins, of Little Rock, AR., and his brother George E. Johnston, of N. Little Rock, AR.
Burrell is survived by his daughter Libby Johnston Danks and grandson Wesley McKinney Danks of Austin; his daughter Lisa Johnston Irvin and husband Richard and granddaughters Morgan Elizabeth Irvin, Emma Louise Irvin, and Helen Grace Irvin, all of Austin. Additionally he is survived by his sister-in-law Linda Johnston Weems and husband Dwight Weems of N. Little Rock, AR., and nephew Neal Johnston, of Little Rock, AR.
We would like to give our utmost love and appreciation for the care of Burrell by Maria Marin. She was a wonderful companion and provided Burrell with the best care and devotion.
Funeral arrangements will be in Beeville, Texas on October 27, 2018, by Galloway and Sons Funeral Home. Visitation will be at 12:00 p.m. and a graveside service will be at 2:00 p.m.
A Celebration of Life will be held on November 17, 2018, at The Headliner's Club, Austin, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Donations and memorials can be made to the Austin Symphony Orchestra, 1101 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701; The American Heart Association; The Alzheimer's Association.