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Robert Johnston

(Texas & Worcester 1963) (11 September 1940 - 20 September 2017)

Robert was a graduate of Pine Bluff High School, Rice University, and Columbia University. While at Rice he was an all-Southwest Conference football player, playing in the Sugar Bowl and the Bluebonnet Bowl, and was awarded academic all-American status by President John F. Kennedy. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys but declined in order to accept a Rhodes scholarship for study at Oxford University. He was a retired professor of political science and economics at UALR and the US Military Academy at West Point, former chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, appointed by then-Governor Bill Clinton, and former member of the Arkansas legislature, representing the Quapaw Quarter and East Little Rock. A lifelong Democrat, Robert was a passionate advocate for public education, a champion of refugees, an early and avid supporter of women's rights and environmental causes, and a committed demonstrator for peace and racial justice. He founded an all-volunteer charity, "Feed the Hungry," which fed breakfast five days a week for twelve years to the homeless of Little Rock. A frequent contributor to the "Letters to the Editor" page of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and the Arkansas Times, Robert was a constant gadfly spurring the "haves" to acknowledge their responsibilities to those less fortunate. He taught Sunday school at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and was a member of "The Old Guys' Book Club." Also an avid outdoorsman, he summited eleven 14,000 ft. mountains in Colorado and the 19,000 ft. Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. He ran dozens of 10Ks and 5 marathons, but claimed his most dramatic running was 3 miles at an 8 minute pace with President Bill Clinton, twice from the White House and once in Kiev, Ukraine. He became a lifelong skier after learning to ski while teaching at West Point and also made many canoe trips around the country. He lived abroad in both Indonesia and the former Soviet Union, while working as a consultant to the US Agency for International Development, and loved to travel the world, including annual trips to Scotland.