Peter Furth Johnston, 83, of Paso Robles, CA, passed away peacefully at home on April 19, 2024. Born in Portland, Oregon, on March 16, 1941, Pete spent his formative years in Southern California before forging a path that would impact many here on the Central Coast over the last 45 years.

Pete’s journey with his beloved wife, Jocelyn “Jolly” Johnston, began with a whirlwind romance. After meeting at his father’s car dealership, Pete was instantly captivated. He proposed six weeks later, pursuing her heart and charming her with his genuine affection and earnest spirit. Their marriage in September 1965 marked the start of profound and enduring love, blessed with four children—Jocelyn Johnston-Slason, Suzanna Johnston, Sonjia Johnston Baer, and Dr. Daniel Johnston—and enriched further by their spouses, Michael T. Slason, Derek Baer, and Ekaterina Johnston, and their grandchildren, Hope Alexandra Slason, Jocelyn Marie Brimage (Michael Brimage), Peter Slason, Michael Philip Slason, Rebecca Proulx (Evan Proulx), Patricia Slason, Sophia Baer, and Sasha Baer, and great-grandchildren, Chace Brimage, Waylon Slason, Anastasia Karolina Slason, and Sawyer Slason. Family was a source of immense joy and pride for Pete, and his love for them was a guiding light in his life.

Professionally, Pete carried on a family legacy as a third-generation owner of College Chevrolet in Claremont, California, a business started by his grandfather that sold and serviced vehicles and helped motorists with roadside emergency services as a contracted AAA service provider. In 1979, Pete purchased Fred Brieden Chevrolet and moved his family from Claremont to Paso Robles in 1980 to enjoy a better quality of life. He founded Pete Johnston Chevrolet, and a few years later purchased Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac from Smith Leslie to form Pete Johnston General Motors. After selling the dealership in 2009, Pete continued being a AAA service provider to the Central Coast and helped stranded motorists until he sold Pete Johnston Towing in 2022. 

Pete’s commitment to service was unparalleled. As a passionate leader, he served as President of the Paso Robles Rotary Club (1994-1995) and embodied their motto, “Service above Self.” During his tenure, he helped pioneer the first annual Paso Robles Rotary Golf Tournament, a legacy now in its 30th year supporting important local youth charities. As the President of NCI, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting independence and inclusion for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, he mentored other board members, generously facilitated vehicle purchases, and sponsored NCI golf tournaments. These actions not only showcased his dedication to advocacy and community service but also significantly enhanced the organization’s reach and impact. Pete’s selfless dedication to improving the lives of others is not just a testament to his character but a source of inspiration for us all.

As an aviation enthusiast, Pete channeled his love for flying into serving others through his work with the Flying Samaritans. He piloted numerous missions to provide medical care to underserved communities in Mexico—a testament to his selflessness and dedication to humanitarian causes. Additionally, his commitment to the Estrella Warbirds Museum reflected his love for aviation history and community heritage.

Pete was passionate about vintage cars and delighted to use these cherished vehicles to enrich local parades and community events, sharing the joy of automotive history with others. To the community’s delight, his antique cars became a familiar and beloved feature at local celebrations, driven by Pete, family, and friends.

Pete’s generosity extended into every facet of community life, from supporting local sports teams to engaging in educational initiatives. He was a proud supporter of 4H and FFA, often seen at local fairs supporting young participants.

Pete is also remembered for his incredible sense of humor; his “Peterisms” brought laughter and levity wherever he went. His philosophy of life, deeply embedded in his actions and relationships, was beautifully encapsulated in his favorite scripture, John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

Pete leaves behind a family and a community that saw him as a servant of others, friend, mentor, and inspiration. His legacy of love, laughter, and service continues to ripple through the lives of those he touched.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on May 8, 2024, at Christian Life Center in Paso Robles, CA, followed by graveside services at Templeton Cemetery and a garden reception. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Paso Rotary Services Inc., PO Box 3641, Paso Robles, CA 93447.