NEWTON, TEXAS (KTRE) - Wednesday night was a time of celebration, not mourning, for the Newton community.
That was the message that was given by the Newton community at the Celebration of life for W.T. Johnston.
Johnston died Saturday after a long fight with Graft Versus Host disease. He is one of only four cases of the rare disease.
Johnston was more than a football coach. He was a husband, a father and a grandfather. He was a father figure to players and students who did not have one. He was a preacher who would lead church at his home and try to inspire others even when he struggled.
Johnston took over the Newton football program eight years ago and led the team to a 97-15 with two State Championships.
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. 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.”
Wednesday night was a night for others to talk about the impact Johnston had on them.
“He is in a better place because that is the life he lived,” former Newton player Corbin Foster said. “That is what he instilled in us at football practice, in the hallways or if you sat and talked with him in his office. It was always keep your eyes on the cross. We are not trying to make this sad. It is joyous. It is a homecoming.”
The Johnston family has set up a scholarship fund at First Financial Bank in Newton. The address of the bank is 418 Rusk Street, and the phone number is 409-224-7502.