JERRY LEE JOHNSTON

Posted On September 8th, 2010 -

JERRY LEE JOHNSTON
April 16, 1937 – September 2, 2010

Beloved father and grandfather passed away in Reno, NV on Sept. 2, following a short illness. He was a proud veteran having served as a Corpsman in the U.S. Navy. JJ, as he was known to his children and grandchildren, was a 6’2 grizzly bear of a mountain man with a long and illustrious career as a professional golfer and member of the PGA. He began his golf career on the plains of Odessa, TX as a teenager. In the early 1960’s he made his way to southern California and was assistant pro at Annandale Golf Club. From there he moved to Hawaii as a young assistant pro at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, where he quickly earned the Head Pro position. It was there that he helped develop the Hawaiian Open golf tournament – the premier Hawaiian contest which is still played each year. He was honored to represent Hawaii along with Allen Yamamoto in the World Cup Tournament in Singapore in 1969. In 1970, he moved to Royal Kaanapali Golf Club as head pro where he developed a wonderful friendship with his friends with the same first name: Jean and Jean Haraga. The year 1980 brought JJ an opportunity to help design and develop two world class golf courses on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. He was hired as Director of Golf for the Mauna Lani Resort and it was here that his vision for the Senior Skins Game became a reality. Among his experiences there were playing with or hosting some of the greatest golfers of his generation like Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus. Though a Texan and mountain man at heart, he became a true “kamaaina” – native or long-time Hawaiian – through the rich relationships he developed and the golf family he loved in Hawaii – among them his most dear friends Neil “Buster” and Lei Bustamante and Charlie and Winona Park. JJ retired to Montana and settled in a valley in Whitehall. He loved his horses – especially his favorite one – “Casino , and enjoyed riding in the mountains and panning for gold. He later moved to Reno, NV where he enjoyed visiting with his dear Hawaiian friends – the Bustamantes – who he thought of as family and loved tremendously. Though he had a notable career as a golf professional, he was most proud of his children and grandchildren. He was an outdoorsman and had a love of nature, animals, horseback riding, and adventure that he passed along to them. He leaves behind daughter and son-in-law Lisa and Michael Penner, grandson Nicholas and his wife Mary, all of Oklahoma City, and granddaughter Samantha Penner of Houston, TX. Also daughter Jessica and son-in-law Paul Niles and grandchildren Jordan, Caleb, Chloe, and Alexis Niles, all of Elk Point, SD, daughter Melanie Johnston of Scottsdale, AZ and son Jerry Jr. of Las Vegas, NV. Aunt Mary Coulson and cousins Sue and Richard Coulson, all of Oklahoma City, and cousins Arty and Judith Davidson of Albuquerque, NM. Private family memorials will be held in Reno, NV and Elk Point, SD. Memorial donations may be made to Circle of Life Hospice, 1575 Delucchi Lane, Suite 214, Reno, NV 89502


- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran