NEWTON, TX (KTRE) - A public memorial service will be held for W.T. Johnston, Newton ISD’s former head football coach.
The beloved died Saturday after battling chronic lung disease and blindness. Because of his illnesses, Johnston stepped down from the head football coach/athletic director in April.
The public memorial for Johnston will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Newton High School football stadium.
“As we celebrate the life of Coach W.T. Johnston, the family requests that students and coaches attending from the surrounding area wear their school colors to the memorial service,” stated a post on the Newton ISD Facebook page.
In addition, Newton ISD officials are asking for people to donate to a special scholarship fund that is being set up to honor Johnston instead of getting flowers for the family.
“On behalf of Newton ISD and the family, we are grateful for the support and prayers,” the Facebook post stated.
In addition to being a football coach, Johnston was a husband, a father, and a grandfather to his family. He was a father figure to players and students who did not have one in their lives. Johnston was also a preacher.
According to a previous story, Johnston took over the Newton football program eight years ago. Under his leadership, the Newton Eagles had an overall record of 97-15 during that period, and they won back-to-back state championships, including last year’s win over Canadian.
In April Johnston was in attendance for the team’s ring ceremony. He openly talked about his struggles.
“You can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself is not going to make your blindness go away or your lung problems go away,” Johnston said at that time. “I get down at night. I am no different than anybody else. Late at night when it is just me, I get down. I pray a lot. I bet 70 percent of the day I am talking about the Lord. That is how I find my strength.”
On April 22, Newton announced Johnston’s son Drew would be taking over his father’s position.
Newton ISD Superintendent Michelle Barrow released the following statement after Johnston died:
On, May 11, 2019, former Athletic Director and Head Coach William T. (WT) Johnston passed away. Newton ISD was blessed to have employed Coach Johnston for 26 years, six years as the athletic director and head coach. During his career at Newton ISD, the athletic department has flourished. Not only has Coach Johnston made an impact on the athletic department, but he has had influence on the community of Newton as well. His determined strong faith has inspired many. He is known in East Texas as well as across the country for his work in athletics and his encouragement to others to never give up but to cling to God and his Word. Newton ISD will miss him dearly. On behalf of the family and the district, it is requested that individuals and all media respect the privacy of Coach Johnston’s family, our students, staff, and the Newton community. The school schedule will not be interrupted, our elementary and middle school students will have their STAAR tests next week as scheduled.
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