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Ben Johnston '61 September 8, 2021 1:28 PM updated: September 8, 2021 1:38 PM

Ben Earl Johnston
DECEMBER 19, 1938 – AUGUST 30, 2021

Ben Earl Johnston of Houston, Texas, 82, left us to be with the Lord on Monday, August 30, 2021.

Ben was born December 19, 1938, in Wichita Falls, Texas to William C. and Grace (Denman) Johnston. He was raised in Petrolia, Texas, with his family of five sisters and four brothers. Following graduation from Petrolia High School in 1957, Ben attended A&M College of Texas (Texas A&M University) in College Station, TX where he received a degree in Animal Science in 1961 and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (Magna Cum Laud) from Texas A&M in 1963. While at Texas A&M, Ben served in many roles: President - Pre-Vet Society; President - Freshman Veterinary Class; Student Senate; Student Chapter AVMA; “Southwestern Veterinarian” Assistant Editor and Editor; Phi Zeta and Phi Kappa Phi. Additionally, he was honored with the Merck Manual Award, the Distinguished Student Award, was an Opportunity Award Scholarship recipient and was a member of the Intermural Tennis Championship Team.

It was in College Station where Ben met the love of his life, Yvonne Parker. Ben and Yvonne were married on September 1, 1962 in College Station and spent 59 wonderful years together. Upon graduation from A&M’s Veterinary School in 1963, they moved to Albany, Georgia as Ben joined the US Air Force and served at Turner Strategic Air Command Air Force Base until 1965. Following his military engagement, Ben and Yvonne moved to Houston, TX where he joined Westbury Animal Hospital. Ben and Yvonne would make Houston their permanent home and he was a partner at WAH from 1965 until his retirement on May 11, 2011.

During his long and distinguished veterinary career, Ben was a member of many organizations and served in numerous leadership roles including: President – Harris County Veterinary Medical Assoc. (HCVMA) 1974-75; District Director from Harris County VMA to Texas VMA; President of Texas VMA 1981-82; American VMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust Board of Trustees 1982-1994, serving as Chairman from 1985-87; Active member of American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 1969-2011; AAHA Area Director from Region IV 1979-1981; AAHA Regional Coordinator for Region IV 1981-1983; AAHA Regional Director for Region IV 1983-1986; Veterinary Radiology Society; Advisory Board of Houston Community College 1979-1981; Advisory Committee at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine 1970-1988; Liaison Committee between College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University and TVMA 1984-1986; and was a member of the Texas A&M University Target 2000 Long Range Planning-Academic Committee 1981-1983.

Ben was often recognized and honored as a result of his works in veterinary medicine. Those honors included: Diplomate-American Board of Veterinary Practitioners 1982 - recertified in 1991; Companion Animal Veterinarian Award for Texas 1983; Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University 1983; AAHA Region IV Practitioner of the Year Award 1996; and Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University 1991. In 2009, Ben was instrumental in designing a overseeing construction of new state-of-the-art animal hospital for WAH with his partners and colleagues. The new WAH was awarded as the Veterinary Economics Hospital of the Year in 2009.

Ben was known to his colleagues, staff, clients and friends as “Dr. J.”. He was a skilled surgeon, and a wonderful mentor, partner and teacher: a dedicated and gifted doctor who skillfully worked each day with compassion and patience for his patients and clients.

Family was very important to Ben, who was an incredible husband, father, grandfather (Papa) and friend. He loved days spent with family, cooking, fishing, hunting and watching his beloved Texas Aggies and the Houston Astros; as well as supporting all of Houston’s sports teams. Papa loved attending the sporting events of his grandchildren. He also was an ardent fisherman, traveling all over the state and to other states and countries in pursuit of various species of fish.

Survivors include his wife Yvonne of Houston and his four children; Brent Johnston '86 and wife Anna Highnote of Houston, Craig Johnston '88 and wife Shawn '88 of Moorseville, NC, Corey Johnston and his partner Di-An Nguyen of Houston and daughter, Kristin Weiss '92 and husband Charlie of Houston. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren, Kasie Johnston Kessler (Braden), Hope Johnston Howard (Justin), Keller Ferguson, Cole Ferguson, Benjamin Johnston, Kristen Weiss Wallin (Matt) and Parker Weiss, and four great-grandchildren, Riley and Bodhi Kessler and Charlotte and Hazel Wallin, three sisters and many beloved nieces and nephews. He was proceeded in death by his parents, four brothers and two of his sisters.

A Celebration of Life service will be held for Ben on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 1:30 pm at Sugar Land Baptist Church, 16755 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas 77479. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to the TAMF - College of Veterinary Medicine in memory of Dr. Ben Earl Johnston `63. Please make checks payable to the Texas A&M Foundation and mail to 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840. Online donations may be made at, select “An Unlisted Account” from the drop down menu and enter Dr. Ben Earl Johnston `63.

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