Hassel “Pete” Johnston

April 25, 1942 - February 20, 2023

04/25/1942 - 02/20/2023

Past Services

Friday February 24, 2023
11:00 am

Additional Information:

Trinity Lutheran Church

6807 Huntington Ave., Newport News, VA 23607

A Celebration of Life for Hassel “Pete” will be held at 11 am, followed by a small reception in the fellowship hall.

Hassel “Pete” Johnston, 80, of Newport News, passed away Monday, February 20, 2023.

He was born April 25, 1942, in Jeffrey, West Virginia, the son of the late Jason and Tennessee Johnston.  He graduated from Scott High School in Madison, West Virginia, in 1960, where he was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball and baseball.  The youngest of three brothers, Pete grew up in a house built by his father, a career coal miner.  Pete was proud of his humble West Virginia roots, which laid the foundation for his incredible work ethic and caring soul.  

In 1962, Pete left home and moved to Virginia in search of greater opportunity for him and his family, and thus began a 42-year career at Newport News Shipbuilding.  Over four decades of service, he went on sea trials for 11 Newport News built aircraft carriers starting with CVN65 (Enterprise) through CVN75 (Harry Truman) and traveled internationally on numerous commercial vessels.  He retired in 2004 as a Marine Chemist and a Master Shipbuilder.   While working full-time and mostly on the night shift, he built, owned and operated a laundromat and two hardware stores.

A longtime member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Newport News, Pete was a 33rd degree Mason and volunteered with the Scottish Rite. Pete was known for his generosity and love of family, including attending his children’s and grandchildren’s ball games, swim meets, horse shows, go cart races and coaching youth football.   He enjoyed NASCAR and following college sports.  Pete spent his final years caring for his wife Joan and took great pride in the fact that he kept his vows through sickness and in health. 

Pete was preceded in death by his son, Steven Kyle Johnston; grandchildren Jason Allen Johnston and Brooke Nicole Bristow; and a brother, Basil Johnston.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joan Johnston; son, Michael Johnston and wife, Donna; daughter Diana Spencer and husband, Tracy; son David Johnston, and wife, Kelly; brother Sidney Johnston; grandchildren Talley, Emma, Leigh, Nancy and Nathan Johnston, and Mitchell Bristow; and great-grandchildren, Layla Francis; Wyatt and Mason Bristow; Brady, Aubree, TJ and Ariel Johnston.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.act.alz.org.

A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 24, 2023, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 6807 Huntington Ave., Newport News, VA 23607. A reception will follow at the church.

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David Bennett
1 year ago

I and my children are among those whose lives were changed due to Pete. For example, during my divorce, my children came to live with me, Pete adjusted my schedule so I would be able to get the kids to the YMCA in the morning and be able to pick them up in afternoons after work. This schedule change allowed me to continue working at the shipyard and with his support to eventually became a marine chemist. His support was instrumental in my family having all we have today. I hope to see him again someday and will always be grateful for all he did for us. Condolences to the Johnston family and our prayers are with you. So sorry for your loss… God Bless.

Frances Johnston, Tom & Dawn Johnston
1 year ago

We’re so sad to hear that Pete is no longer with us. We know he is in a better place with no more pain and suffering. Only joy to behold. Praise God!

George (Bob/Brad) Bradby
1 year ago

Pete Johnston was a friend to everyone; he didn’t see color, but he saw some good in everyone. I’ll forever be grateful for the kindness and friendship he showed me, from taking me skiing in Wintergreen to letting me rent his place in Crozet VA. Recently I enjoyed the lunches we would have at Monty’s Penguin and talk about old times. I remember the time we spent together when I was in Safety, and he was in the Marine Chemist office. The Marine Chemist office was always one of our daily stops as we did our safety rounds. Once Joan was in Convalescent Center, Pete was dedicated to ensuring that she was never alone, an undertaking he took without hesitation. He was truly a gentleman, and a friend will be sorely missed. My condolences to the family.

Martha Server
1 year ago

So grateful to God that He brought Pete & Joan into my life fifty years ago as neighbors . . . and, more importantly, as a brother & sister in Christ forever!
Faithfulness marked Pete’s life . . . especially to God & his beloved family! Pete remained steadfastly by Joan’s side until God called him Home! He told me many times that there was no where he would rather be . . . and that he knew Jesus could reach her soul even when he could not communicate with her. Pete was truly Jesus’s hands & feet in caring for Joan.
Pete claimed the promises of God in his grief for his Son, Steve, and Grandchildren, Jason & Brooke. The Word of God reminded Pete that the fundamental key to dealing with grief is—Hope in Christ!
Pete was such a beloved humble man . . . But he knew that he would be in the presence of His Savior because of His finished work on the Cross & His resurrection/ascension.
We will all be together one day with no more goodbyes!
Bill and I are thankful for Pete’s children—Diana, Mike & David—for their loving & unwavering support of their Dad!
Diana has also noted how much Joan’s nurses adored Pete.
Pete & Joan are both god parents for our Son, Brian and he was able to speak to Pete several times this year!
We know that Heaven is celebrating the arrival of Pete . . . and that he has heard the words “well done, good & faithful servant!”
Pete could have no greater legacy than Jesus Christ!
Bill & I are praying for Holy Spirit Comfort & Peace for the entire family . . . which is beyond our understanding!
“The road to a friend’s house is never long” . . . and we will be together again!

Rufus A. Johnston aka (Buster)
1 year ago

Pete and I grew up together and we were together as much as our parents would allow . Our Dad’s were very close and we had the best parents any boy could have. Our parents were strict but very loving. I loved Pete very much. Say hello to our friends and family. I will see you again Pete. RIP Cousin.

Bill & Debbie Vaccarelli
1 year ago

Pete loved all his family! He was a great brother in law to us, a dedicated and loving husband to Joan, and a devoted father to Mike, Steve, Diana, and David. His family was the most important thing in the world to him. His grands and great grands always had his love and support. No matter what your connection to Pete, a relative, a neighbor, a friend, or just someone you had the good fortune of meeting, we are sure his kindness left a mark on your heart. We have so many fond memories of Pete. Knowing he will be reunited with loved ones that are waiting to embrace him, makes it a little easier to say goodby. He will be missed.

Roger Sharps
1 year ago

Pete and I graduated from Scott High in southern coalfields of WV. We became close friends when we were 12 yrs old and remained so til this day. We were brother Masons and members of the Scottish Rite of Masonry. i will miss him.

Kathy Van Mullekom
1 year ago

Pete and Joan were married at my house, and Joan was once my editor. They were made for each other, two loving, kind people. I’m blessed to have known both of them.

Darrell Williams
1 year ago

PETE…was a friend and I knew him for most of my life. We shared stories during our days @ Scott High…played basketball & football together. I lost contact with him after H.S. but always
remember him as a quiet, decent & humble person of good character. May God welcome Pete with open arms. A friend, Darrell Williams