Christian 04

Rev. Dr. Bruce Douglas Johnston

February 18, 1931 ~ January 26, 2024 (age 92) 92 Years Old

Rev. Dr. Bruce Johnston Obituary

Bruce Douglas Johnston of Galesburg, Ill., passed away Fri., Jan. 26, 2024, at OSF St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg. He was 92.

Bruce was born Feb. 18, 1931, in Marquette, Mich., the second of three sons of Martin and Eva (nee Nelson) Johnston, and baptized at Messiah Lutheran Church on March 19, 1931. He attended public school in Marquette through seventh grade, when the family moved to Grand Rapids, Mich.

He confirmed his faith at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids on May 27, 1945.

Having fulfilled the necessary requirements for graduation at Ottawa Hills High School in January 1948, he enrolled at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. He graduated cum laude in spring 1951.

During high school and college, he played violin in the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and then in the Tri-Cities Symphony Orchestra. At Augustana College, he sang in the choir, was editor of the Augustana Observer newspaper, and managed the student union cafeteria.

Following a brief time at the University of Wisconsin Law School, he decided to pursue the call to ordained ministry at Augustana Seminary in Rock Island (now Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) and graduated in 1955. He received a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1976.

His first call was as the first pastor of newly established Ascension Lutheran Church in Deer Park, Long Island, N.Y., in August 1955. After four years, he accepted the call to inner-city Bethel Lutheran Church in Chicago's racially diverse Englewood community.

He met his beloved life partner, Nancy Jayne Youngren, in summer 1960 when the two were serving on the staff of high school Bible camp at Camp Augustana in Lake Geneva, Wis. They were married at First Lutheran Church in Galesburg on Sept. 2, 1961, and blessed with four children.

Their growing family moved as Bruce responded to opportunities for service with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): Bethel (Chicago, 1959-1967); Unity (Chicago, 1967-1972); Holy Trinity (Glenview, Ill., 1972-1976); Illinois Synod staff serving northwest Illinois from Galesburg (1976-1979); and Grace (LaGrange, Ill., 1979-1989). While he retired from active ministry in 1997, he continued to lead seminars for the ELCA and served as a trained interim pastor in eight Chicagoland congregations through 2003.

He was living at Seminary Estates in Galesburg at the time of his death.

Nancy preceded Bruce in death on Nov. 16, 2018, after 57 years of marriage. He is survived by his children Stephanie, Eve Kochanek (Michael), James, and Noel (Stephanie); and four grandchildren.

His ashes will be interred in a private ceremony at Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens in Knox County, Ill., on the Youngren family plot, where Nancy and her parents are buried.

Memorial service: Sat., Feb. 17, 2024, 2 p.m., First Lutheran Church, 364 E. Water St., Galesburg, Ill. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your house of worship, favorite charity, or First Lutheran Church.  Hinchliff-Pearson-West Funeral Directors and Cremation Service Galesburg is assisting the family with arrangements.  Online condolences may be made at 

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Memorial Service
February 17, 2024

2:00 PM
First Lutheran Church (Galesburg Chapel)


First Lutheran Church
364 E. Water St., Galesburg IL 61401
Tel: 1-309-343-3176


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